12 Crafts of Christmas – Decorative Chargers

I keep seeing this on Pinterest and have really been wanting to try it. So the myth says that you write on a plate with a permanent marker and then bake it in the oven at 350 for 15 minutes and that makes it permanent, which David pointed out to me was rather stupid because you are using a permanent marker. So I thought I would try it out for myself. I guess you’d want it to be super permanent incase you wanted to wash the plates and serve things on them, I’m not sure, but I made mine for decor purposes in my apartment. I am no sure if I ever shared a pictures of this when we were doing le tour de abode, but I have these colorful chargers that I have displayed on top of my kitchen shelves with lots of wine bottles and shot glasses, like every self respecting 20-something, ya know to add some color and some mature decor. So here is what it normally looks like!

So I got these plates from the dollar tree because they didnt have any chargers that I liked, and I took my permanent marker to them and did some doodling with christmas carol lyrics and some…. pretty simple graphics. I was kind of sad, because I had much bigger plans for my project, but I think these turned out ok, to be the back up project, and like I said, dollar tree plates, so I spent less than 4 dollars on this little project, AND its a great way to kind of spruce up your holiday decor before a get together or something, or to make some unique serving platters!

But, here are my plates, I made. I know they aren’t chargers, but I will post a link to the original inspiration charger on pinterest and then you can have some craft decor options!

So, like I said, just some simple graphics, and then lyrics to coordinating Christmas Carols, in the appropriate colors to match my holiday decor! Yes, I do have brown in most of my holiday decor, brow is the new gold, didn’t you know?! Once I got them all drawn and baked, I took down the old plates and replaced them with these, and viola, instant christmas decor! I havent washed them yet, but I am hoping that the baking made it permanent!

Here is the link to the original project that I saw on Pinterest, as you can tell, mine is nothing like this and I ended up going with a completely different project all together, but I still really like this one and they are somewhat related so I wanted to share it with you!

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“30 Days of Pinspiration”

If you haven’t check out the new tab on Pinterest you definitely should! Between now and January 4th Pinterest is creating something called 30 days of Pinspiration, where they will post pin boards and the inspiration for their creation for different people throughout the Holiday season!

I think its a pretty cool way to find new people to follow on Pinterest or to get some great holiday traditions to start on your own, if you’re big into pinning, or sitting in class wondering how you will make it through another exam review session, check out this page, at least its something different than the same old Pinterest perusing. Make sure your speakers are off if youre in a public place! The page will play music when you hover over the different boxes, which additionally is a fun feature to play with! So, like I said, if you need to jazz up your time on pinterest over the next 30 or so days (Yes I also wondered how they were starting now when we were WAY more than 30 days from January 4th, so they skip a few, obviously!) Happy pinning, and enjoy!

Deck the Halls!

Confession: I put my Christmas decorations up before Thanksgiving. But in my defense, we were out of town for the Holiday and I will be out of town for the next two weekends, and I dont see the point in putting all this stuff up if you dont have time to enjoy it! I decided I wanted to do a less traditional tree. I mean it has all the traditional elements, its not anything weird, but I wanted to go with a color scheme that would match my apartment a little better, so I ended up using golds, browns, bronzes, and mercury glass ornaments! I am pretty pleased with the way it turned out, I even made a fun little tree topper with a bow and lots of other… tree topper… things! So, since I spent lots of time collecting the perfect ornaments and making my tree skirt, etc, I wanted to show you guys the finished product!

While decorating was fun and easy in my small little apartment I did miss the insanity of decorating at home with my parents we put up like 6 trees, a huge snow village, basically our house converts to a winter wonderland in about 36-48 hours. Its kind of insane! Just ask anyone who has ever helped us do it! But, even though I use to pitch a fit every Friday after Thanksgiving, I was always SO glad when we got everything up because it was so pretty! I can’t wait to go home this weekend because my parents already decorated so now I just get to enjoy it! Maybe I will take a few pictures and share them with you guys its KIND of unreal! Yay Christmas! How is your decorating going? Doing anything creative with your home decor? Or do you have any decorating traditions??

Tomato – Tomahto — Homemade Spaghetti Sauce

David and I have been talking about trying this recipe for a while. Pretty much since we saw the episode of Good Eats earlier this year. We eat spaghetti on a pretty regular basis, I guess you could say its one of our go to meals, typically its quick and easy, we use jar tomato sauce, and add lots of extras to make it meet our flavor expectations. A few weeks ago we decided to be ambitious and make our sauce from scratch, and who better to lead us on this culinary exploration than Alton Brown!?! So, we found the recipe from that old episode of Good Eats and took to the kitchen to see if we could handle a from scratch sauce. And I have to say I was pretty impressed with our first attempt. I think if we had a blender to make the tomatoes a little more liquid-y and we may have needed some more tomatoes, because I like more of a red sauce, and this was mostly meat, which was good, but I was missing the base a little! So, the original tomato sauce recipe is below, we added italian sausage, ground beef, and mushrooms to the regular recipe and omitted the celery and carrot, because it…. seemed weird. So feel free to add or remove as needed!

Ingredients

  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole, peeled tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup sherry vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 onion
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 stalk celery
  • 2 ounces olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

Instructions

In a sieve  over a medium non-reactive saucepot, strain the tomatoes of their juice into the sauce pot. Add the sherry vinegar, sugar, red pepper flakes, oregano, and basil to the tomato juice. Stir and cook over high heat. Once bubbles begin to form on the surface, reduce to a simmer. Allow liquid to reduce by 1/2 or until liquid has thickened to a loose syrup consistency.

Squeeze each tomato thoroughly to ensure most seeds are removed. Set the tomatoes aside ( I made David handle this so I don’t have a picture, because I was busy working on the next part!)


Cut carrot, onion, and celery into uniform sizes and combine with olive oil and garlic in a non-reactive roasting pan over low heat. Sweat the mirepoix until the carrots are tender and the onion becomes translucent, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the tomatoes and capers to the roasting pan.

Place roasting pan on the middle rack of the oven and broil for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes. Tomatoes should start to brown slightly on edges with light caramelization. Remove the pan from the broiler. Place the pan over 2 burners on the stove. Add the white wine to the tomatoes and cook for 2 to 3 more minutes over medium heat.

Put the tomatoes into a deep pot or bowl and add the reduced tomato liquid to the tomatoes. Blend to desired consistency and adjust seasoning.


While we were doing all this we browned the hamburger meat and the italian sausage and then sliced the sausage into coins and added all the meat to the sauce! Then mix everything up and serve over warm noodles! This too about an hour, but it was worth it for sure! We plan to ind of doctor it up and get it attuned with our tastes!

Definitely recommend this one, especially if its your first shot at making a home made sauce, because it wasn’t too complicated, but still had a really solid end result. Now I just need to find an intense Italian sauce recipe and try my hand at that! Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated!!!

Movement Mondays – The Waltz of the Snowflakes

WOO HOOOO! Its Christmas season, which means I can now confess my insane love for The Nutcracker! Its one of my favorite Christmas things. Whenever I was younger my grandma use to take me every christmas to see it. I think I partially blame The Nutcracker for my obsession with dance. I always loved how effortlessly the ballerinas seemed to flutter across the stage, and as I got older I loved the precision with which the chorus dancers were able to perform this beautiful choreography “a la heard” as my dance teacher use to call it, aka in a huge massive group all dancing on top of each other! The Waltz of the snowflakes was always one of my favorite numbers, its was that transition period between the strange little beginning sequence and the magical land in the second half of the ballet, and what child doesn’t love the magical snow fall at the end of number. Its always sooooo awesome! So, enjoy my first week of the month long nod to one of my favorite Christmas traditions! Here is The Royal ballet’s rendition of the Waltz of the snowflakes!

12 Crafts of Christmas- Advent Calendar

I thought since December 1st is next weekend, now is a good a time as ever to post the advent calendar I made, that way, if you feel so inclined you have time to get one together to use for your kiddos this year! This whole project cost me about $14, including buying new scissors, and wrapping paper, and tape, so it is what I like to call a steal. I am pretty sure the wrapping paper cost more than all the other supplies for the project, so my bad on not having that already! I do have wrapping paper for my christmas presents but its kraft paper, soooo it didnt really go with this project! anywho, you can wipe out this project in about 3 hours, once you have all your supplies, so heres a pictures of what you’re striving for, and how to make it!

Supplies:
– 25 small match boxes
– white curling ribbon
– marker
– wrapping paper
– tape
– scissors

First you need to empty all the matches out of the boxes, unless you are a bad parent and plan to give your child matches for advent, which is less than advised. So, once you remove them all, you will have a ton of matches, so I suggest putting them in a mason jar, for safe keeping!


and I saw a little tip on pinterst where you can cover the top in sand paper and then you still have a way to light the matches that is convenient to the matches themselves! Awesome! Once you have all the matches removed, you want to take the inside little “drawer” out so that you only have the sleeve left!

Then you want to wrap just the sleeve with the wrapping paper, I made sure one side lined up perfectly with the edge of the paper and then the other side had the paper wrapped inside the sleeve. So, when you side the drawer back in, you want to do that on top of the side with the folded in edge, so that it doesn’t rip the paper, so when you finish one of them it should look like this:

Then you want to wrap all the boxes in the same way, and replace all the little drawers inside them, it seems tedious but its really not that bad, I cut all the little pieces of paper I would need first, so I didnt have to keep stopping and cutting every time I was ready to wrap a box, because that really slows the progress!

Once I got them all wrapped up, David and I played leggos, trying to find the best way to stack them up and get the best tree shape, at first it was kind of short and stout but we finally settled on truning the boxes on their sides, despite my desire to do so because the drawers would not hold their contents as easily, and we did our rows, 6-5-4-3-2-1 and then two rows of two on the bottom, stacked long ways for the base.
Once we decided on a design I started attaching the boxes. I just hot glued them together, making sure that the seam sides were all on the inside so I had clean edges!

Once I got the rows glued together, I attached a ribbon around the center of them so they would look like perfectly wrapped christmas packages! I doubled up my ribbon to make it a little more pronounced.

Once I had all the rows glued together, I started stacking them and attaching them together, again with hot glue, the magic fix all for crafting! On the very top package I added a bow with some cute little curly-ques to make it look more like a christmas package.

Once everything was put together, I added the numbers to the fronts of the drawers so you know which ones to open on which day. I saw some online that used pushpins as little drawer pulls, so you can add those if you like, but I felt like they were kind of disproportionate, so I chose to pass up on that activity!

So, all you have to do is fill it with candy, or treats, or fun christmas messages, or activites you guys can do together, OR as David so kindly pointed out, it is a great vessel to hold dollar bills and coins, since the drawers are so small! haha, but I think it works fine, you can fit tootsie rolls, mints, jolly ranchers, all kinds of small candies inside! So fill er up and enjoy!

Crockpot Low Country Boil

Since this weekend is rivalry weekend for most schools, I thought it was only fitting that I post a great tailgate recipe! Who doesn’t love a low country boil? I mean it screams fall and football, and since this weekend will be the culmination of the entire season, with the exception of whatever post season play your team finds themselves in, its best to go out with a bang! So, even if you’re just at home cheering on your beloved alma mater from home, you need to give this one a try, its too simple, and ingenious to pass up! I found it on this great site called crock-pot exchange it might be my new guilty pleasure, some really out of the box recipes!!! So, don’t be offended if you see tons of them on here in the coming months!

Ingredients: 

  • 14 cups of water
  • 1/4 – 1/3 cup of spicy boil seafood seasoning ( I used Zatarain’s, but Old Bay would be good too)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 head of garlic, halved
  • 1 large yellow onion, largely diced
  • 4 stalks of celery, cut into large 1″ chunks
  • 2 1/2 – 3 pounds of small redskinned potatoes, washed and skin left on
  • 3 ears of corn, shucked and cut into quarters
  • 2 pounds of sausage ( I used smoked, but andouille or kielbasa would work too), cut into 3″ pieces
  • 2 pounds of 31-35 count shrimp (sometimes referred to as medium shrimp) deviened with shell on
  • 3 pounds of lemons, halved (optional)

Instructions: 

  1. Add water, seasoning, bay leaf, garlic, onion, celery and potatoes to 6 quart or larger Crock-Pot® .
  2. Cook for 4 – 6 hours on low, until fork pierces potatoes easily.
  3. Add corn and sausage.
  4. Cook on low for additional 1 – 2 hours.
  5. Add shrimp.
  6. Cook on low for additional 20 – 35 minutes. You want the shrimp to be pink, but not overcooked.
  7. Scoop out with slotted spoon and serve immediately with halved lemons for squeezing over meal. The easiest way to serve is to spread several layers of newspaper onto you table and evenly spread out the contents from the crock pot so that everyone can help themselves.

Hope you guys enjoy your last weekend of regular season football, and GO TIGERS!!!!!!

Thanksgiving Menu!

As I mentioned in a previous post, David and I will be preparing a majority of the Thanksgiving Dinner at his parents house this year to give them a littler break! I am kind of excited about it and thought that I would share the menu we came up with! Im pretty excited about it! and I can’t wait to let you guys know how it turned out! However, I figured it would be more helpful if you were looking for some last minute recipes to round out your meal, if I posted the receipts prior to Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Menu: 

Roasted Turkey: This is a turkey from a previous post, so I can tell you if you are looking for a delicious and simple turkey to try this year, this one comes with my HIGEST recommendations!
Ingredients:
1 cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1/8 cup salt
1/4 cup pepper
1/4 cup oil
1 Thawed whole Turkey

Instructions:
Mix ingredients in an browning bag. Remove turkey innards and place turkey inside the bag with the mixture and seal. Massage the mixture into the turkey and then place turkey in a roasting pan breast side DOWN. Cook in the oven for 4-5 hours at 300 degrees.

Wild Rice and Mushroom Casserole: This one is from Garden & Gun so we have high hopes for it, I know Thanksgiving is the day of the casserole, so you typically have your green bean and sweet potato, etc. but we wanted to try something different so were gonna give this one a whirl!

Ingredients:
2 cup wild rice, 
cooked according to 
package directions
6 tbsp. unsalted butter
8 tbsp. minced onion
4 tbsp. minced 
green pepper
16 oz. white mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
2 cans condensed cream 
of mushroom soup
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2tsp. dried tarragon
1 tsp. curry powder
Coarse salt and ground black pepper to taste

Preparation: Preheat oven to 350˚F.
In a heavy-bottomed ovenproof pot over moderate heat, melt butter until foamy and sauté onion, pepper, and mushrooms until softened and aromatic, about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in soup, cream, and spices. Add cooked rice, stirring to combine, and transfer to preheated oven. Bake until soup and cream are absorbed and the rice thickens, about 40 to 50 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Stuffing: We made this last year and it is literally the BEST stuffing ever. Its not as dense as a typical stuffing, and the cranberries and apples give it a nice sweet taste, its amazing, If you make nothing else form this post, you need to make this, it will change your thanksgiving!

INGREDIENTS
2 loaves of day old French bread, cut into 3/4-inch cubes (about 10-12 cups)
2 cups walnuts
4 cups chopped onion
4 cups chopped celery
12 Tbsp butter
2 green apple, peeled, cored, chopped
1 1/2 cup raisins
Several (5 to 10) chopped green olives (martini olives, the ones with the pimento)
Stock from the turkey giblets (2-3 cups) (can substitute chicken stock)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 teaspoon poultry seasoning or ground sage (to taste)
Salt and freshly ground pepper (to taste)

Instructions:
1 If you haven’t already made the stock, take the turkey giblets – heart and gizzard – and neck if you want, and put them in a small saucepan, cover with water and add a little salt. Bring to a simmer; simmer for about an hour, uncovered. Strain the stock into a container for use with the stuffing. Alternatively, you can use chicken stock or just plain water with this recipe.
2 Toast the walnuts by heating them in a frying pan on medium high heat for a few minutes, stirring until they are slightly browned (not burned) OR put them in the microwave on high until you can smell the aroma of them toasting, about a minute or two. Let them cool while you are toasting the bread, then roughly chop them.
3 Heat a large sauté pan on medium heat. Melt 3 Tbsp butter in the pan, add the bread cubes, and stir to coat the bread pieces with the melted butter. Then let them toast; only turn them when they have become a little browned on a side. Note, if you aren’t working with somewhat dried-out day-old bread, lay the cubes of bread in a baking pan and put them in a hot oven for 10 minutes to dry them out first, before toasting them in butter on the stove top. The bread should be a little dry to begin with, or you’ll end up with mushy stuffing.
4 In a large Dutch oven, sauté chopped onions and celery on medium high heat with the remaining 3 Tbsp butter until cooked through, about 5-10 minutes. Add the bread. Add cooked chopped walnuts. Add chopped green apple, currants, raisins, olives, parsley. Add one cup of the stock from cooking the turkey giblets or chicken stock (enough to keep the stuffing moist while you are cooking it). Add sage, poultry seasoning, salt & pepper.
5 Cover. Turn heat to low. Cook for an hour or until the apples are cooked through. Check every ten minutes or so and add water or stock as needed while cooking to keep the stuffing moist and keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Cranberry Sauce: This one comes to use homemade by Pioneer Woman, so I also have pretty high expectations for this one, because people always talk about how great her recipes are, so hopefully she doesn’t let us down, but this one sounds great!

Ingredients
1 bag (12 Oz. Bag) Cranberries
1 cup Cranberry Juice (or Orange, Apple Or Any Ot¬her Juice Combination)
1 cup Pure Maple Syrup (not Pancake Syrup!)
3 Tablespoons Juice (you Could Also Do Orange Zest, Lemon Zest, Lemon Juice – Anything Citrusy)

Preparation Instructions
Wash bag of cranberries under cool water, then dump into a medium saucepan.
Pour in 1 cup of cranberry juice (or whatever juice you choose).
Pour in 1 cup maple syrup.
Add orange juice (you could also do orange zest, lemon zest, lemon juice – anything citrusy).
Stir together and turn heat on high until it reaches a boil.
Once it comes to a rolling boil, turn the heat down to medium low and continue cooking over lower heat for about 10 minutes, or until the juice is thick. Cut heat.

David’s Mom is going to make a sweet potato soufflé  and some mac and cheese in the crockpot, but those are her recipes so I dont have those to share with you guys, but we had them last year and they were wonderful and delicious annnnnd her sweet potato soufflé  is to. die. for.

Pumpkin Trifle: Per usual, I need to change things up so I didnt want to make just an apple pie, or pumpkin pie, or whatever, so I found this fun little holiday dessert I am going to try, and I have my fingers crossed that it will be top notch, because it sure sounds like it!

Ingredients
1 package (14-1/2 ounces) gingerbread cake mix
1-1/4 cups water
1 egg
4 cups cold fat-free milk
4 packages (1 ounce each) sugar-free instant butterscotch pudding mix
1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon each ground ginger, nutmeg and allspice
1 carton (12 ounces) frozen reduced-fat whipped topping, thawed

Directions
In a large bowl, combine the cake mix, water and egg, beat on low speed for 30 seconds. Beat on medium for 2 minutes. Pour into an ungreased 8-in. square baking pan.
Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack. When completely cooled, crumble the cake. Set aside 1/4 cup crumbs for garnish.
In a large bowl, whisk milk and pudding mixes for 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in pumpkin and spices until well blended.
In a trifle bowl or 3-1/2-qt. glass serving bowl, layer a fourth of the cake crumbs, half of the pumpkin mixture, a fourth of the cake crumbs and half of the whipped topping. Repeat layers. Garnish with reserved cake crumbs. Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving. 

So wish us luck, hopefully we dont ruin the holiday meal!!!! Like I said, I will let you know how it all goes! Happy Turkey Day!

Movement Mondays- I will wait

Happy Movement Mondays Dance lovers! Heres another “I love this song, and I really love this dance” post. But how could you not like this, its so fun and up beat, and awesome! And I wish I could do this dance! So, so aweomse! Happy Monday, and beginning of a short holiday weeeeek!