Friday, November 30, 2012

Salt-dough Gingerbread Ornaments

I've been looking for some cheep (ok, free) ornaments lately, and something to entertain my kids and this is what I came up with.

 Their festive, smell delicious (although they wouldn't taste delicious)
 and my kids and I had a blast making them.
They're so easy! Just make the dough, roll out, cut, and bake.

Here's the recipe...
Salt Dough Gingerbread
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
1/2 cup water (little less)
2 Tbsp malassess
Add all the ingredients to a bowl and mix. (I didn't measure the spices, just threw some in to they'd smell good.) Roll out about 1/4 inch thick. Make a hole, with a toothpick, for a ribbon. Bake at 325 degrees for 20-30 minutes. You want them to get hard and dry, not soft like a cookie. When they're cool, tie on a ribbon and hang on your tree!
Enjoy! and Merry Christmas!

check out these other salt dough ornaments...

here's where we link

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Baby Pictures

Some lucky lady just gave birth to this precious little baby.
And it was me!!! :)
What a doll!

I can't even count the number of times the word "precious" or "angel" has been used to describe her.
So sweet! :)


She has perfect little toes and fingers.

And all her little baby ways are endearing. Well, almost all.... :) Actually all the night-time feedings and such aren't so bad with this little sweet heart.

She's even cute when she cries!

Little Madelyn is my 3rd child--my 3rd girl, and I must say she fits into our family perfectly.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Black Eyed Susans

Some of you that know me, not just through blogs, know that what I really love the most (besides my family of course) is to paint. Sadly it doesn't happen as often as it should. It isn't as easy to keep up with now that I have 2 little ones, but I've been making an effort to paint more.
(sorry the pictures aren't the greatedst)

I have to admit I was a little rusty and it took a bit of work to get going but I have indead finished a painting! Yeah! It's an 18x30 watercolor. Since I had to paint in smaller increments (I'm lucky to get and hour or two every once in a while) it took a long time, but I'm sure the next one will be quicker.

I have to say I enjoyed every minute! it felt so good to get back into what I love- just for me. (Well, mostly just for me. My husband says I get grumpy when I havn't painted in a while, so I'm sure they bennefited some too :)
Soooo, go do something you love! Just for you or for no reason at all. You won't regret it!

here's where we link

Friday, November 23, 2012

Let's go Fishing!

I don't know how it is at your house, but at mine, these cold months can be tough.
 Especially with 2 very active kids.
So to break up the routine a bit....

Maybe it was in our basement, but it was still fun.
Not only did we get to catch the fish, we got to make them too. Bonus!

First we drew a bunch of fish on cardstock. (Well, actually, 'sea creatures'. My 5 year old thought that would be ALOT more exciting.) Then we cut them out, punched a hole and attatched a paper clip.

Make a fishing pole by tying a string to an unsharpened pencil. Sandwich the end of the string between 2 magnets and hot glue in place. I put a little glue where I tied the string to the pencil too so it wouldn't slide off.
You're ready to go!

Catch of the day... Lobster!
She has such good taste :)

here's where we link

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Fall Felt Wreath

My door was looking a little bare, so I had to dress it up.

I re-purposed these felt mums I had made last year 
by just hot glueing them on to this grape vine wreath I had laying in the basement.

Which made this this years decor ABSOLUTELY FREE!
I realize you probably don't all have these things cluttering up your house, but felt is cheep and the wreaths can be found about anywhere this time of year for a dollar or two. So it's still a good deal.
And another bonus, since it is red and green I think I'll leave it up clear through Christmas!
Remember this wreath from last year? Yah, sadly the 'wreath' part didn't survive out last move. (Which is why I alread had the flowers :)
Here are the instructions for the Yarn and Felt Wreath.

and if you want to make some too, here's the felt mum tutorial.
I think these sunflowers would make a great wreath too...

Hope you're having a wonderful holiday season!

here's where we link

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Pumpkin Cheesecake with Maple-Pecan Shortbread Crust

If you haven't quite decided what you're making for Thanksgiving dessert yet,
 you might consider this....

Its every bit as delicious, festive, and rich as it sounds.
And bonus, its best made the day before you want to serve,
so plan ahead and have one less worry for the big day.

And don't be intimidated by the cheesecake factor,
it really is quite simple to make and worth every second.

Oh, and its big. REALLY big. And did I mention rich?
So if you have a lot of mouths to feed, it will go a long way.
Want the recipe?
For the filling I adapted this recipe from The Hungry Mouse
and then I made my own crust. Here's what I did...
Pumpkin Cheesecake with Maple-Pecan Shortbread Crust
1 c. flour
1/4 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. finely chopped pecans
1/2 c. butter, softened
1 slightly-beaten egg yolk
1 1/2 Tbsp. maple syrup
1/4 cup flour
2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 Tbsp. maple syrup
1 15-oz. can 100% pure pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
24 oz. cream cheese (3 8-oz. bricks), at room temperature
1 3/4 cups brown sugar
4 eggs
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Prepare crust: Combine the flour, powdered sugar and pecans in a bowl. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Then, add the egg yolk and maple syrup, mix well. Pat about 1/3 of the dough on the bottom of a 9” spring-form pan. Bake at 400 for about 8 minutes or until the crust starts to appear golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow the crust to cool. Now, butter the sides of the pan. Starting at the bottom, pat the remaining dough on to the sides of the pan. It should go up about 2 inches.
Turn the oven down to 325 degrees.
Prepare Filling: Beat cream cheese til softened. Add brown sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time mixing beween each. Add pumpkin and maple syrup. Beat to combine. Add flour and pumpkin pie spice. Beat gently to combine.
Poor filling into crust. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour and 15 minutes. The cheesecake will look set when done, but the middle will still wiggle when you move the pan. Cool in the pan on a wire rack, then put in the fridge 6 hours or overnight. (This is important!! Chilling is what makes the cake set. If you don't allow the cake to chill long enough it will be mushie!)
Serve with whipped cream if desired (its good either way). Enjoy!
* I used a 9" pan, but you could easily use a 10" pan or two smaller ones. Just make sure to adjust your baking time. You may need to bake for a little shorter time if it isn't as thick/tall. *

here's where we link!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Lasagna Soup

'Tis the season for some warm, yummy soup!
 I love soup in general, and I especially love it in the fall and winter months--so cozy, so satisfying.
Years and years ago I met a lady who had a routine of cooking a soup every Wednesday evening in the cold season and preparing a salad every Wednesday evening in the summer. Well, I'm not THAT regulated, but I do try to do a soup once a week in the cold months and a salad once a week in the summer. It's healthy. It makes menu-planning easy.
Hence this yummy lasagna soup. Love it! I don't even know where I got the idea or recipe to begin with, but it's been tweeked enough to be my own at this point. It's warm and satisfying and perfect for a chilly night.

The soup has sausage in it, but is just as good prepared as a vegetarian dish. Granted you do loose some flavor and it ends up tasting more like pasta fagioli, but there's no reason to complain about that. :)

And look at that yummy, gooey cheesy-ness on top! This is one soup you'll want to try. :)
Lucky for you, I'll share my recipe. :)
Lasagna Soup
½ to 1 lb. Italian sausage (hot sausage is also great)
1 large onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. dried parsley
½ tsp. crushed red pepper flakes (opt.)
1 8-oz. can tomato paste
1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes (fire-roasted are especially good)
2 bay leaves
6 c. chicken stock
2 small zucchinis (opt.)
8 oz. lasagna noodles, broken to bits
½ c. chopped fresh basil leaves
Few handfuls of spinach (opt.)
Salt and pepper to taste
Cheesy Yum:
8 oz. ricotta cheese
½ c. grated parmesan cheese
¼ tsp. salt
Freshly ground pepper
1. Brown the sausage in a large pot, breaking into pieces as you stir. Add the onion and cook until softened. Add garlic, oregano, parsley, and red pepper flakes if using. Cook for about 1 minute.
2. Add tomato paste and stir well to incorporate and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until the tomato paste turns a rusty brown.
3. Add diced tomatoes, bay leaves, and chicken stock. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
4. Prepare the cheesy yum by combining the ingredients in a bowl.
5. To the soup, add zucchini if using and uncooked pasta. Cook until pasta is al dente.
6. Right before serving, stir in basil and spinach and season with salt and pepper. Add a dollop of the cheese mixture in each bowl and serve.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Girls room wall art: framed fabric

So, I've been completely loving all the fabric-based wall art I've been seeing lately.
I've been working on my girls' blue-and-pink shared room, and this is my version of some framed fabric wall art.

Some of the fabric is leftover from their quilts.
Some of the fabric is leftover from their rag rug.
And some of the fabric is whatever they had a Walmart! Super lame, I know and I am certain I could find something better at an actual fabric store, but the project needed to get done (did I mention I'm due to have a baby in T-minus 6 days?), and I was at Walmart, and I figured I might as well get it completed while I could. If I get ambitious, I plan on updating some of the fabrics at a later time. IF I get ambitious. :)

The project was really easy to complete.
I had the leftover white frames from my daughter's framed tree mural I did in her room a few houses ago (I knew they would come in handy again someday!).
I didn't, however, have any backing for any of them, so what I did was cut cardboard boxes to fit the insides of all the frames. Super annoying actually. I watched several episodes of Downton Abbey while sawing through cardboard.
Then, I used a regular ol' stapler to staple the fabric around the cardboard. Then I inserted the wrapped cardboard into the frames.
To find the layout I wanted, I laid them all out on the floor and moved them around until I was satisfied with the arrangement. Then I laid out some butcher paper (2 long strips taped together to make it wide enough) underneath and traced the frames on top of the paper. The paper was then transferred up to their bedroom and taped to the wall where I wanted the frames to go. I went ahead and hammered nails through the paper onto the wall, took the paper down, hung the frames up, and voila, done deal. :)
For the time being, I think their room is complete! I had a few other ideas of cute things to do, buuttt, due to the aforementioned approaching birth of little girl #3, the room is essentially complete! :) Yea!
If I do ever get around to doing those other cute ideas, then I'll have to post a "completed" room profile. :)

Happy crafting,

Friday, November 9, 2012

Thankful Tree

Thanksgiving should be about being thankful, right?
Well, last year we decided that we needed to add a little "oomph" to our Thanksgiving season, so we made ourselves a Thankful Tree.
I sawed off some branches from a tree in our yard, stuck them in a rustic-looking pot full of dried beans (so it wouldn't tip over) and then everyday we "decorated" the tree with thankful thoughts, shaped like leaves.
We usually did this around breakfast each morning. Each of us would take a leaf, and we'd think of something we were thankful for, write it down and place it on our tree.
Here are a few of my favorites:
From my 4-year-old:
"That we have a heater" (must have been a chilly morning!)
"Mommy takes me really fun places" (wonder what we did that day?)

From my 20-month-old:
"Hop Hop and Baa Baa" (her lovies--a frog and a sheep)

I think we'll do something similar this season--it truly did add some festivity and genuine gratitude into our holiday season.

What do you do to feel more thankful during the Thanksgiving holiday?