Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Cookies!!!

This year I didn't have much time to make Christmas cookies as we were either out of town or visiting with friends after work.  I did attempt a few the other night but they didn't quite work out the way I had hoped :o(  I made Pecan Balls which I Love as they are very light and tasty and these actually turned out pretty well this year.  In years past I had a lot of trouble getting them to stay in balls, but this year I had success!

 I also attempted to make Cinnamon-swirl Cookies but these didn't turn out quite how I expected.  They weren't as pretty as the picture from the recipe and not as soft as I thought they would be.  But maybe you would have better luck, the flavor was really nice with the brown sugar and cinnamon although in some cases the sugar caramelized on the bottom.

In years past I have found some recipes that I really liked but were more labor intensive than I had time for this year.  I would definitely recommend them so I thought I would include them with my pics from last year.

These Chocolate-peppermint Cookies were WONDERFUL and very festive looking.  They are a peppermint-flavored chocolate wafer cookie, dipped in white chocolate and sprinkled with crushed candy cane ........YUMMY!

I also really like the thumbprint cookies which are a basic butter recipe cookie covered in ground almonds with a dollop of jam on top.  In the photo below I used apricot jam and boysenberry jam as those are my parents' favorite fruits.

And the standard Christmas cookies.........sugar cookies!  These are a lot of fun to cut out shapes of a Christmas-y theme and decorate.

And those are my favorite cookies to make for Christmas.  I hope you find these as enjoyable as my family and I have.  And have a very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Edible houses

Last night at our craft club meeting we decided to treat our inner child to making gingerbread houses!  We used some store bought graham crackers and candies and we were off.  I don't think I've made a gingerbread house since elementary school when we used our left over milk cartons for a base.  This time one of the girls whipped up some super strength frosting that cemented our houses together.

I have to say when we were all done I was a bit giddy and really wished I could live in my gingerbread house.  It was just so cute and colorful!  It's not quite up to Martha Stewart standards (have you seen some of the gingerbread houses on her website!), but it was a lot of fun and really put us all in the Christmas spirit :o)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Homemade Christmas

Since this year my friends and myself were short on funds we decided to have a cookie party instead of buying each other gifts.  We all gathered at one of my friends' houses and each brought a recipe to try and divided up the cookies between us at the end.  It was a really great idea and we all want to do it again next year :o)

I also made decoupage boxes for my friends, a project that my craft group from work had taken on a couple weeks back.  I chose personalized themes for each box and got to work.  And I think they turned out to be nice, thoughtful gifts and I really had fun making them.
I decorated one box with some sparkly pine trees reminiscent of camping trips we took and included pictures inside the box from the trips.  Two of the boxes had hydrangea stickers (from the Martha Stewart collection again!) the native flower of the Portuguese islands two of my friends' families are from.  And the last box was covered in daisies, another friends favorite flower, and butterflies.
So those are the homemade gifts I gave my friends, it was a lot of fun choosing the themes and decorating the boxes......I already have stickers picked out for a box for me!  And thanks to my crafting friends for giving me the idea!!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Cabinet Completion!

We finally finished our corner cabinet for the dining room......woohoo!   So here's our story of finding, refinishing, and ultimately enjoying our new to us corner cabinet.  After the generosity of family and friends with gifts for our wedding we just couldn't find the space to store everything in our kitchen cabinets (and we don't have much storage to begin with!).  I had been searching and searching on Craigslist, thrift stores, IKEA, everywhere for a cabinet to put in our dining room that was just the right size to hold enough dishes but not be an oversized monstrosity and wouldn't break the bank.  We finally found the perfect solution, a corner cabinet on Craigslist and we were in luck we had my parents' truck for the week!  So we took a bit of a drive, loaded it up in the back of the truck and brought it on home.
After asking the neighbors for help getting it in the house (it was a lot too heavy for me) we had the chance to really evaluate our purchase.  It would work perfectly in our space but something just had to be done about the appearance.  It was a dingy white with brass hardware that would have to go........but it had good bones.

So I set to work first removing all the doors, drawers, and hardware and lightly sanding all surfaces with a new sander we bought at Home Depot with a wedding gift card (a thoughtful gift for two diy'ers who visit the store just about weekly!).

And then I covered all surfaces to be painted with primer.

At this step we had a paint failure that I forgot to take a picture of.  We initially thought painting the cabinet black would work well, to match the base of our dining room tables and chairs, but on the cabinet it was a bit overwhelming.  So I had to backtrack, repaint primer over the black and then start again with white paint.  I painted three coats on all surfaces and then replaced the older hardware with our new Martha Stewart hardware that I mentioned in a previous post.  Brian also had to to re-drill a few holes for the hardware on one of the doors as it was hanging a bit crooked. Then we loaded up our dishes and glassware and TA-DA, we had a new corner cabinet :o)

With a spiffy light.

And the hummingbird etched glass actually doesn't look too bad with the new paint job and hardware.........although it would be nice to see our new dishes a bit more.  So that completes this adventure, dining room cabinet = SUCCESS!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Let there be Christmas!

This is the first year we actually have a full size Christmas tree.  While living in our apartment we bought a cute little potted blue spruce tree that we had been using year after year.  And with each year there were less and less needles until it could no longer be turned to hide the bald spots as it had become one giant bald spot.  So this year we HAD to buy a big tree! 
I found some ornaments on sale at Michael's, I really liked the silver glittery patterns, and then found some disco-ish silver balls at Target in the dollar bin.  With left over snowflakes, stars, and lights from years past, I got to work with my Mom decorating the tree, with Brian playing Christmas music from his computer in the background.  And if I do say so myself it is quite a lovely tree, it looks somewhat elegant with all the silvery ornaments and golden lights.

And as tradition (well for the last couple years, it's in its initial stages of traditiondom) we each bought a ornament for the year.
Brian chose a "flying snowman" from Target, because he really liked the snowman's propeller hat. He didn't care about the loving heart or the wish for peace he just thought the hat was cool :o)

While I chose a mercury glass deer from West Elm.  I guess I am in a silvery-bling decorating mood this year.

And that's our Christmas tree for this year, not the standard green and red ornaments, but a "sparkly thing" as Brian just called it after I asked him for for his take on the tree.  But he enjoys......he really does :o)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Our hunt for hinges

I've been working on refinishing a corner cabinet we bought off Craigslist a few weeks back.  We decided to replace the hardware on the cabinet to give it more a feel for our sense of style.  It originally came with knobs and pulls that had a leaf motif.  We had pondered painting the knobs more of a satin nickel color than the 80's style bronze they were.  Although I love a nature-y theme, I just felt like something different.

I've always liked the cup-shaped cabinet pulls and while wondering the isles of Home Depot  low and behold I came across the perfect style........and they were Martha Stewart so I had to have them!  And Brian liked them because they were somewhat industrial looking, although he was a bit weary of a cup-shaped pull for ease of use but I convinced him :o)

Yesterday I was all set to put the doors back on the cabinet after painting them, but the hinges just would not do.  After two coats of paint (one by me and one maybe by the previous owner) they were lacking in the mobility department.  So off we went to Home Depot and finally to Orchard Supply where we found the perfect hinges to match our Martha Steward hardware......I was happy :o)

So hopefully soon we will have the doors back on the cabinet and we will have a picture of the finished cabinet.  Well almost finished, we still have to deal with the hummingbird etching on the glass windows.....but that will be another time when we have some money to buy a couple pieces of glass.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

We started a blog!

So this is our first blog post.  I've talked about starting one of these for a while and now I finally have!  And getting this set-up was no easy task at least for someone that isn't super computer literate.  There was much asking (distracting) Brian for help to get this thing going.  So hopefully in the coming weeks this will actually turn in to something that looks a bit more interesting with pictures of the house and what we are working.  But this is a start! :o)