December 10, 2012

reindeer noses and santa's kisses goodie bags

I found this lovely idea on the House 36 blog for Christmas treat baggies to make for friends, co-workers, and they make cute stocking stuffers.

All you need is some clear baggies (I used clear sandwich bags) to put the kisses in, tie the bag with ribbon and hang the tags off. Then I cut the top of the bag off. 

I made my tags using a word document and used clip art, cut them out, and hole punched them. They were so easy and fun to make. House 36 has been so kind and provides printable tags you can use, here and here.

 As a little extra I had some red M&M's and made this cute Reindeer nose tag (from House 36) and altered the words a bit, and filled the entire bag with red M&Ms for Rudolph's nose.

Happy Holidays & Enjoy!

December 7, 2012

christmas pancakes

I gave my traditional weekend pancakes a little holiday update and they were a hit! I made my favorite chocolate chip pancakes and then used a Christmas tree and Gingerbread man cookie cutter to cut them out. You can use any cookie cutter, I think stars would be really fun too.

They came out delicious and almost too adorable to eat....almost! These also make a perfect treat for Christmas morning!


December 5, 2012

holiday decorating

This time of year goes by so quickly, so I want to enjoy it as much as possible. I started decorating for the holidays about a week or so before Thanksgiving this year and I am still decorating.

The tree is complete with ornaments, birds, mini nests, owls, and pine cones I painted white (Click here to see how I painted my pinecones last Christmas). Every year my mom and I add new birds to my tree. Birds belong in trees, so I thought it was only natural that they fill my tree for the holidays. My blue bird is one of my newest addition and my mom bought me a snow owl to top my tree. It makes me smile every day when I pass him.

Around the house I have hung snowflakes around the doorways, wreaths and mini trees stand on side tables. One of my newest additions are my brass deer that I bought at this lovely vintage shop on Etsy. I have been looking for the perfect pair and I just love these.

I am off to decorate some more and to start wrapping gifts!

Happy Holidays!

November 28, 2012

koulourakia cookies

Let the holiday baking begin! This holiday season I am gifting a lot of baked goodies to friends and family.

One of my favorite cookies are greek cookies called koulorakia. They are perfect with some coffee and tea in the morning.

Every time I make them I watch this helpful video of a greek grandmother making them, and you can follow her recipe here: Click here


November 27, 2012

quick diy advent calendar

Advent calendars are a fun way to count down the days till Christmas. This year I was hoping to find the time to make some muslin bags or to hang on a separate tree with hand stamped numbers and fill it with mini goodies and presents to open each day in December.

I also thought it would be great to show a very quick do it yourself if you don't have time or materials to make a large advent calendar. 

I purchased a few mini (2x4) kraft paper bags at my local craft shop, white and red paint markers, and I purchased a few candies, mini holiday related goodies. Then I decorated them with white and red markers (my tree theme). You can hang these with wooden clothes pins, tack them to a cork board, or even tuck them inside the tree.

November 24, 2012

happy thanksgiving

Grateful for another Thanksgiving I was able to share with my family. We went out for a quick run to Starbucks early in the morning before we got started cooking and baking. I am always in the kitchen with my mom and I treasure every moment I have with her. I capture each movement and each laugh we share like a camera in my mind. I was in charge of making and baking the apple pie, my favorite.

I wish you a beautiful Thanksgiving with your family and loved ones.

November 15, 2012

what i've been reading

I just finished these 6 books in the last month or so. I love reading, but I don't know if I have ever read these many books in such as short period of time.

I finished "With Love and Laughter, John Ritter" in about 1 1/2 days. I finished Gene Wilder's Kiss Me like a Stranger in just about 3-4 days. I loved each one of these books for so many reasons, they are all so different, unique and beautiful in their own right, their honesty is very apparent, and each of them with the help of an editor or not, are excellent writers, that kept me engaged and I couldn't put these books down.

In addition to all of them being wonderful writers, they all possess an amazing amount of strength, optimism, and courage.

First They Killed My Father, written by Loung Ung. Loung Ung describes, in the most delicate details, her life as a very young child, her days of happiness, play, and love for her family, and father, until it all changes and she lives a life no child, or anyone for that matter, should ever have to endure. A life of hunger, slavery, and to witness unnecessary and unjust murders of friends, her family, and many others. While the book is emotional, reading about Loung Ung and her courage was inspiring and the history of her country is one we should all know about it.

If You Ask Me (And of Course You Wont), written by Betty White, is a very sweet, short and quick book to read. Betty shares stories about her life. If your a fan, and I am, I love Golden Girls, then you have to read it.

Lucky Man, written by Michael J. Fox. I have always liked Michael J. Fox, who doesn't. He's the sweet kid and man we watched on TV and who could forget the Back to the Future movie series.

Mike shares with us stories about his childhood in Canada, how he got into acting at a young age,  how he found out he has Parkinsons, and how his life and how he lived it greatly changed. He is wonderfully honest and funny. I am just starting to read his second book, which is written 10 years after "Lucky Man: Always Looking Up. The Adventures of an Incurable Optimist".

Resilience, written by Elizabeth Edwards, is an inspiring book and look into the life of Elizabeth Edwards. We take a look into her childhood, we hear and feel the pain of the loss of her young son, the cancer that eventually took her life, and others things she went through in life. Very courageous and inspiring. Even if you don't agree with her politics, she was a strong and brave mother and woman, who loved her family and lived through heartaches. It's a book we can all relate to.

With Love and Laughter, John Ritter, written by Amy Yasbeck. I enjoyed this book so much, because I was and am a big John Ritter fan. Oh, everytime I see John Ritter playing Jack in Three's Company or the many many funny movies he was in, I forget for a moment he is gone, and just enjoy watching him and his natural comedic talent.

The book is written almost like John wrote it himself, because Amy quotes him so much, she really was able to capture his warmth, love, and his wonderful sense of humor. The book makes me love him and miss him even more. She takes us back to his childhood and all the stories he shared with her about his family, his father, Tex Ritter (actor, musician), their lives together, funny stories along the way, and then to the tragic day when he past away.

Kiss Me Like a Stranger, written by Gene Wilder.  I love Gene,  like Michael J. Fox and John Ritter, they exude this likeable/loveable person who we all just love seeing on the screen. You can't help but love them. And for them to share a bit of themselves with us is such a treat. I have enjoyed so many of his movies; Young Frankenstein, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factor, Blazing Saddles, and the list goes one.

Gene is so funny and honest, sometimes a little too open, but I got to see another side of him, and that I, naturally, did not know of, not just a a brilliant actor, but as a wonderfully sweet, curious, and intresting man. And I found out that he doesn't live too far from me. Hmmm...road trip anyone?

Are you reading any good books? If so, let me know. I am always looking for a good book to read.

November 7, 2012

cookies in a sauce pan

Ingredients (slightly adapted from Baker Girl)
  • 3/4 cup butter
  • 1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar (Note: whenever possible I always cut the amount of butter, white sugar and use egg whites)
  •  2 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup uncooked rolled oats
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

What's different about this recipe is that it starts off being made on top of the stove in a medium sauce pan.

In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat until melted. Remove from heat. Stir in dark brown sugar and granulated sugar, until combined. Place in refrigerator to chill for about 20 minutes. I took mine out a bit earlier and the sugar was still warm, you want to make sure it is cool so that the flour and other items don't just melt right into it. The cooler it is the thicker it is, and it will make it much easier to roll them.

Remove from refrigerator and stir in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla. Add the flour, oats, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon and mix together. Stir in white chocolate and semisweet chocolate chips.

I used a tablespoon to make small round balls and lay them on a tin sheet on top of parchment paper.

 Preheat oven to 325°F and once oven is ready, bake for 12-14 minutes and golden brown.