Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Monday, December 30, 2013


Sometimes it's hard to put into words the way you are feeling....

...sometimes heartbreak is beyond words.

Sometimes it's not about being in or out of love.... 

...it's about self preservation and not loosing yourself. 


Homemade Door Bough

As part of my office's submission for the door decorating contest this month, I made a hanging bough from various pine branches, holly berries and some ribbon.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

DIY Candle Centerpiece

If you've been following my blog, even for just the last week, you'll know I love DIY but don't often have the time. This holiday season I tried to make time and do some simple ones that were still statement pieces.

I have had this large metal candle holder beating around in closets for a while. The problem is it's just so long and takes up most of the coffee table - not leaving much room for anything else. But this year I decided to dress it up some and make it work somewhere.

All it took was some candles from Cost Plus World Market, some berry twigs from Michaels and an old bird ornament we bought years ago.

Holiday Window Dressing

Starting a few months ago I started browsing Pinterest for holiday decorating ideas. One of my favorites that I knew I had to do this season was this one:

Simple, easy and still a dramatic statement piece for in my front kitchen window (my condo doesn't have many windows and the kitchen is right near the front door).

The only things I ended up having to buy were the ribbons to hang the ornaments from. I would have wanted a few more ornaments but I'm a little obsessive when it comes to themes and balance. I didn't necessarily have any more that would balance nicely and "matched". Haha.

Maybe next year I'll purchase a set specifically for this decoration. It's definitely one that I'll do again year to year.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

DIY Mexican Hot Cocoa Mix

A few years back our family did a homemade gift only exchange - originally to try and teach my sister K's foster children that the holidays aren't about getting things but rather the thought. Years later, we don't restrict gifts but we do encourage homemade touches. 

This year I made a batch of Mexican Hot Cocoa mixes and gave them to all the households; tied to each was a homemade ornament (that one of my coworker's daughter made). It was super easy and a little something special amongst the store bought gifts. 

I found the recipe on Pinterest; while the original recipe was on a vegan website it was simple to swap the "powdered soy milk" with standard "powdered dry milk". The recipe below makes (nearly) fills three 12oz mason jars.

2 C powdered sugar
1.5 C cocoa powder
2.5 C powdered milk
1.5 tsp salt
2 TB cinnamon
1/2 tsp chili powder

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and put through a sifter (note: dry milk is often "flaky"). Once sifted mix well. Divide into mason jars, top with marshmallows and decorate!

How to make:
1/3 cup mix to 2/3 cups hot milk. Yum yum.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Decorative Kale

For Yule my sister K gave our mom some beautiful decorative kale. We put it in water and it bloomed even larger within a few hours. So beautiful.

I'm not sure where it grows best (since these were clipped like flowers) but it would be a nice path trim.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

DIY Colored Sugar

Why buy colored sprinkles anymore when you can just make your own colored sugar at home!? Super simple and you can make WAY more colors than you can buy in the store!

Ingredients: Tupperware, granulated sugar, box of food dye

Directions: Add approximately one cup of sugar to a Tupperware (with a tight lid) and add between 3-10 drops of food dye (depending on brightness and color). Best to add only a couple drops to start and add more to richen the color.

Directions continued: Tighten lid and shake like crazy!!
Add more color if desired.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Baked Brie with Cranberry and Hazelnuts

I don't know about you but in my opinion there's not much better than cheesy-oozey-goodness. And when you combine gooey cheese and crispy dough it's just fabulous. So this Christmas Eve I baked two wedges of brie in layers and layers of phyllo dough - topped it with homemade cranberry sauce and toasted hazelnuts. DE-licious!

2 wedges of brie
1 box of phyllo dough
1 1/2 sticks butter
1 C cranberry sauce
1 C toasted hazelnuts

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Melt butter. Layer phyllo dough and slather well with melted butter. Continue to alternate butter and dough until about 1/2 of the package is layered. 
3. Place brie cheese in center of dough and wrap cheese in dough. 
4. Place in oven for 20-30minutes or until dough is toasty golden. Add cranberry sauce on top and around edges, sprinkle toasted nuts around. Put back into oven for 5-10minutes to warm cranberry sauce. Serve with favorite crackers (I served with almond cranberry thinAddictives by Nonni)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

One of my favorite part of big holiday meals are the munchies before dinner. This Thanksgiving I bought a few pounds of roasted pumpkin seeds (because mine from Halloween went bad before I could roast them) and made a few different flavors of spiced pumpkin seeds: cinnamon sugar and a lemon/chili version (separate not together).

Just melt a few tablespoons of butter in a pan and add the pumpkin seeds. Roast on the stove top for a few minutes until the seeds start to golden.

For the lemon/chili seeds, I added a few tablespoons of lemon juice and chili powder to the seeds on tossed them on a cookie sheet.

For the cinnamon/sugar I did the same but just a nice mix of cinnamon and sugar.

Put them in a preheated 350 degree oven for about ten minutes, tossing half way through. Keep in the refrigerator to keep them longer.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Lemon Blueberry Loaf

This Thanksgiving we had the family over in the morning for coffee, mimosas and brunch-like treats. Including a lemon blueberry yogurt loaf that I found on The Country Cook

I'm not sure if it was the recipe, the lemon syrup or what that made mine come out so dense. It was definitely more bread loaf like than a cake (which in my opinion is light and fluffy). But it was good nonetheless.

I was just happy my blueberries didn't sink to the bottom of the cake. 

I think if I made it again I'd do without the lemon syrup - made it a little too sticky and super sweet. But it was good with a nice hot cup of dark roast coffee.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Salted Caramel Apple Strudel

I'm definitely known as the "Baker" in my family, but where we hosted Thanksgiving this year and were responsible for more than just the pies. My mother isn't a huge fan of apple pie but we did talk about doing an apple strudel instead. 

It was pretty good. The dough didn't get crispy enough in my opinion but it was still delicious. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Stuffed Figs

I've seen variations of this recipe a few places - television, Pinterest, etc. So I thoughts, since we were having such a small Thanksgiving this year, that it'd be perfect time to try it out on the family. 

Since it's hard to find fresh figs we bought dried figs and rehydrate them in a few cups of boiling water. I let them sit a few hours until they were plump.

Cut off the stems and slice length wise, not splitting in half but still connected/jointed.

Mix a block of cream cheese with approximately one cup of chopped pistachio nuts

Fill figs with cream cheese mixture.

Wrap each fig with prosciutto and skewer with toothpick. Bake in oven at 350 for 10minutes (or under the broiler just keep an eye on them so they don't burn). Serve warm.
They were a huge hit. The sweet and salty, creamy and crispy. I did them in two batches so once the first half were eaten, I put the second group in the oven. They really were best fresh out of the oven (although watch out for the molten hot cream cheese). I hope you enjoy them as much as my family did.