31 December 2010

Today

Today I am excited about snow. I know I have told you that I am not really into snow and ice and that I don't like being cold. That said, when you live in Colorado and it's gone past Christmas without a truly acceptable snow storm (meaning you have to shovel it) you start to get a little worried. You feel that something is askew in the universe.

Today...


In fact, the perfect day to try out my new arm warmers - knit with a Blue Sky Alpaca's pattern. I changed a couple of things so they would fit me better, and I am loving them!


30 December 2010

21 Days to Organization...New Year's Resolution?


I am not really a big fan of New Year's Resolutions. I have a certain resentment, probably common to regulars at the gym, towards those who resolve to exercise in the new year and start showing up and using "my" treadmill at the time I have been going all along. I also tend to be more motivated to organize and change things about the time school starts in the fall. 
That said, I have been thinking pretty hard about what has worked for me this last year, and what has not. I am proud of some of the things I have accomplished. You may remember this and this.
There is still so much more that needs to happen for my home to feel like a functioning, organized, easy-to-keep-up place of peace and tranquility. I know. Total pipe dream. But still, it's a goal. 

So, anyway, long story short, I was thinking about the next step toward total organization, and not feeling very inspired, when I came across this:


What could be better than someone else deciding what I should do on a particular day and telling me to do it? I'm sure this wouldn't be for everyone, but for me, it's perfect. 

Join me, starting January 1st, at a bowl full of lemons. Let's see what we can accomplish in 21 days. I bet it's better than that diet you were thinking of, or going back to the gym. Yeah, you, stay off my treadmill. Get organized!

28 December 2010

Christmas at My House

Traditions at my house... Nativities from around the world, stars on my tree, hand knitted stockings, new pajamas made by mom (usually), gifts from Grandpa and Grandma's travels (this year, Croatia), nightmarishly huge puzzles that dominate the dining room table from Christmas to New Year's, spending time with my family.













24 December 2010

Grandma GG's Date Nut Bread

One of my most favorite Christmas traditions is my Grandmother's Date Nut Bread. This Grandma is my father's mother, and every Christmas she would bake forty to forty-five loaves of her date nut bread and ship it all over the world to her children and grandchildren. She passed away in March of 2009, and there is a pretty good sized hole in my Christmas - no foil wrapped date nut bread arriving in a shoe box from Grandma.

 My dad, holding my daughter, me and my Grandma in 2004

Isn't my grandma cute? Kind of off the subject, but one of the cool things about my Grandma was how she remembered EVERYONE's birthdays. Her children, her grandchildren, and her 82 great-grandchildren (at last count anyway. I am sure there are one or two new ones I have missed). You can't believe how proud she was of having so many great-grandchildren. Her great-grandchildren are the reason she became "Grandma GG." 

So...
Grandma GG's Date Nut Bread

Grease and flour two loaf pans and preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix together:
1 cup chopped dates
1 cup chopped nuts (I sometimes leave out the nuts, not a huge fan)
1 tsp. soda
3/4 cup water
Let stand 10 minutes



Mix together:
1 cup sugar
1 cup mayonnaise
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla


Combine the date mixture with the sugar and mayonnaise mixture. Add 
2 cups of all purpose flour


Mix well. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-55 minutes. It's done when a knife comes out clean.


As you can see, mine came out a little sunk. That's how it goes sometimes when you bake at 6000+ feet. I am sure yours will turn out great. Mine looks like dog biscuits, but it tastes delicious.

21 December 2010

Homemade Caramels - Delicious!

 
An old holiday tradition, passed down from my Mother's mother, is the making of Christmas candy. Today, I am making caramels - YUM!


Caramels
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup white Karo
1/2 lb. butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk
Nuts (optional)

Butter a jelly roll pan. Combine all ingredients except nuts in a large heavy pot and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly. Boil about 30 minutes or until 235 degrees on a candy thermometer.


Note: I am going to show you photos using the cold water candy test because my candy thermometer broke, but I really recommend a candy thermometer. If you don't have the candy thermometer, use the cold water candy test. It is fine to cook your caramels to the firm ball stage as well, if you like them a bit more firm.


If you are using nuts, chop them and spread them over the buttered jelly roll pan. Pour caramel onto the jelly roll pan and make sure it is distributed evenly. Let cool. Cut into bite sized pieces and wrap in waxed paper. Share!

18 December 2010

Weekend Book Review - A Christmas Carol


It's the perfect time of year for a first read or a re-read of this timeless classic. A tale of redemption and forgiveness and the true spirit of Christmas. Take a couple of evenings and read it with your family. It's not very long. Let me know what you think!

16 December 2010

Super Cool Christmas Crafts

Great ideas for gifting or decorating, or just bringing the spirit of Christmas into your home, all from some of my favorite places online.


Free download (pdf) for you to use, just follow the links!

Be sure to read her post about what they do with this adorable manger and why.



We love our pretty tree garland!



Hot Chocolate on a Stick! Perfect for gifts for our teachers this year.



 
 Lovely salt dough ornaments - super kid friendly



I LOVE how these turned out!

Looking great on my tree!



Encompass Circle Scarf

If you're looking for a last minute gift to knit, the pattern is available to purchase HERE!

Happy Crafting!

14 December 2010

Deep Cleansing Breaths

It's Monday, and all the company is gone. The two older kids are at school. My house is my own again. I don't know why it should feel this way, but while I do enjoy having company, my goodness I like having my house to myself. Well, to myself and the 4 year old with a fever...
One great thing about my husband's parents, they are really good about helping with those little projects you just never get to. Here are some updates to my efforts to finish my kids' rooms.

The Fancy Nancy which is very nearly done:



My daughter's room is pretty hard to photograph, but you get the idea. For me, it's a lot of stuff. For her (and her grandma) it's just perfect. Did you notice the chandelier? The curtains are a sheer purple with purple and pink flower trim at the bottom. The swag is slinky purple, embroidered with purple flowers. Then a garland of silver bows is draped over it all. My goodness!


The Cowboy - still a work in progress, but it's coming along:

We decoupaged the letters with cool paper and stuck them on the wall above his closet. Have I mentioned before how much I adore Command Strips? I do, I adore them. You can't see them very well, but the name is surrounded by glow in the dark stars. It's cute. Now we just need to paint his new bed and trade his old bed into his sister's room, hang a quilt and some photos, and we'll be done. OK, there might be some wall paint on the ceiling that needs touching up too. But we're getting there.

That's it for now. While you're here though, I am looking for some guests to post here - are you interested? Leave a comment letting me know  I'm pretty open as to subject. It can be about Christmas if you want, or a recipe or a craft. Anything fun. 

09 December 2010

See you in a week...be my guest?

Just a quick note to let you know I'll be taking a week off. I have lots of company coming in for my son's 12th birthday. The in-laws are already here, my parents and my brother and a couple of his kids come Friday, another brother Saturday... you get the picture. I'll be back next Tuesday,  and then I want you to

BE MY GUEST!

If any of you would be interested in being a guest on my blog and sharing your favorite thing about Christmas or the holiday season or your favorite decorations or recipes, please reply to this post. I'd love to have you join me. 

05 December 2010

Holly Days Blog Hop!!! - Delicious Fudge Recipe





Check out all of the fabulous holiday-themed projects, gift ideas, and more from our wonderful EtsyMom Blog Hop Contributors from around the world!!



Here's how it works:
1. Hop through each of the blogs listed above to get fabulous holiday inspiration and leave a comment. If you are starting at a blog in the middle of the Hop, start back at the EtsyMom Blog. You may have to scroll down a bit on the blogs to find the Blog Hop posts as the week progresses.
2. Leave a comment on the EtsyMom Blog  post between now and December 11, 2010.
3. Enter to win our giveaway by doing any of the following. For each thing you do, you will be entered into the drawing one more time:

~Leave a comment on the EtsyMom Blog post between now and December 11, 2010.
~Leave a comment on the Holly Day Blog Hop posts for any of the blogs listed above between Dec 5 and Dec 11, 2010.
~Join the EtsyMom Blog email list (fill out the form in the right hand column).
~Become a follower of the EtsyMom Blog! Just click the "Follow" button in the lower right column.
~"Like" the EtsyMom Facebook Page.

Share about this Blog Hop on your own blog, posting a link to this page.
Share about this Blog Hop on Facebook, posting a link to this page.
Share about this Blog Hop on a message board or forum, posting a link to this page.
To let us know you've done these things, please come back to the EtsyMom Blog post and leave a comment for each thing you did.  
Sorry - you cannot enter the giveaway here on my blog. 

On December 11, 2010 we'll choose a winner using the Random Integer Generator from random.org. The winner will receive this super sweet gift basket full of handmade holiday goodies, including:

a pair of Turquoise Earrings from http://www.stoneymistdesign.etsy.com/
a lampwork bead bracelet by http://handmadewhimzy.etsy.com/
sterling silver and Swarovski pearl/crystal holiday earrings by
a cream colored cotton scarf given by http://www.zoegirldesigns.etsy.com/
a raincloud ornament from http://www.etsy.com/shop/babyjives
a matching splat mat and baby bib from http://www.babysindulgence.etsy.com/
two pair of earrings from http://quirefly.etsy.com/
a gift pack of over 30 pages of vintage paper ephemera by http://www.etsy.com/shop/countrychiccottage
a lovely sustainable stocking from http://www.rikrak.etsy.com/
a set of holly jolly gift tags from http://cinnamonspice.etsy.com/
a set of toddler pajamas in a style of the winner's choice from http://heatheregley.etsy.com/
a $15 gift certificate from http://camelotstreasures.etsy.com/
A gift certificate from http://babyswank.etsy,com/
A Custom copper heart necklace from http://www.etsy.com/shop/ct2designs


DELICIOUS FUDGE 
A great holiday treat to enjoy and give.

I am about to share with you the best Top-Secret-in-Plain-Sight recipe for fudge. It's called Fantasy Fudge, and the recipe is on the back of the Kraft Marshmallow Creme Jar. It is basically the no-fail fudge recipe. Of course, now that I've said that.... just follow the directions, OK?


Fantasy Fudge

1 1/2 cubes butter
3 cups sugar
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 small jar marshmallow creme
1 - 12 oz. package chocolate chips*
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine butter, sugar and evaporated milk in a large pot. Stir constantly. Bring to a boil. Boil 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in marshmallow creme, vanilla and chocolate chips. Pour into a buttered 9x13 dish and let cool until set.
*Any flavor of chips can be used. For the two types of fudge in the pictures below I used peanut butter chips and milk chocolate chips.
Boiling

Stirring in the marshmallow creme and chocolate

For variations, we have used white chocolate chips, mint chocolate chips or dark chocolate chips. Sometimes we mix dried cranberries or cherries into the white chocolate fudge. You can add almonds or another nut that you like to the fudge. If it sounds good to you, go for it!


Now that you've enjoyed some delicious fudge with me, please hop on over to Baby Jives
 for a fabulous ornament tutorial!

Weekend Book Review - The Prince and the Pauper


A Prince and a Pauper change places and high adventure ensues. Set in the reign of King Edward VI, just before and just after Henry VIII dies. Twain fits the story neatly into the true life of Edward and it is a lot of fun. His usual sarcasm is mild in this story, but he has plenty of instruction about how rulers should behave - more of a lesson in merciful leadership than a fairy tale. The message of the story lies in the true prince learning the importance of knowing the laws of the land and governing with a balance of strength and wisdom.