Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday Musings #26

One more weekend to Christmas shop!!! AHHHHHHHHHHHH. I have almost all of my shopping done - but will most likely have to brave the stores tomorrow to pick up a few last minute items. ELBOWS OUT. 

Anyways, hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas with your family, friends, or whoever you may be spending the holiday with. I'll leave you with my favorite Christmas video - which I'm sure everyone has seen by now but it's always worth a second viewing!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

O Tannenbaum

Decorating the Christmas tree was one of my favorite things to do growing up. Each ornament has a story - whether it's one your parents had since they were little, one you received for your first birthday, or that ever classic macaroni ornament you made in elementary school where half of the macaroni has fallen off. It's more than just making the tree look good, it's a small history of your family. Everybody has their favorite ornament. they want front and center (mine is a Hallmark "Magic" ornament called Christmas Morning with little kids sliding down the banister) and then the few that go on the back of the tree (sorry macaroni ornament.)

A few years ago I decided to paint ornaments for my coworkers for Christmas. Michael's sells plain white clay ornaments which you can then decorate how ever you'd like.

I bought a variety of acrylic paints. They have fantastic colors - even metallic and GLITTER. Once you're done painting, you spray it with an acrylic sealer to give it a nice shiny finish.

The bad thing about this project is it can be pretty time consuming. I spent days painting all of the ornaments and then became attached so I didn't want to give them away!

While I did eventually part with most of them, I held on to a few of my favorites.

What is your favorite ornament??

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Wednesday Review: Christmas in the Nick of Time

See what they did there? NICK. heh. This week we're reviewing Christmas in the Nick of Time by Carol Field Dahlstrom. It boasts 750 easy-to make ideas. That sure is a lot!

What I Like:
* I love crafts (duh.) and I love baking, and I really appreciate books that have a hearty dose of both. This book has ideas on ornaments, centerpieces, gifts, cookies, candies, soups, and breads.
* Learning 101. At the end of each chapter, there are different "lessons" on a variety of subjects - like the different kinds of flatware. I like the lesson on soup garnishes.
* The set up of each chapter is pretty different from other books. It starts out with pictures of all the crafts/goods in that chapter and little descriptions. Then all of the instructions are at the end of the chapter. (with more pictures thankfully!). It also includes any patterns/templates you need right along in the instructions instead at the end like most other books.
* It includes some wonderful gift basket ideas. Have a friend who loves to gamble? or fix things? The gifts are all in fun containers and have a nice aesthetic layout.

I haven't actually made anything from this book yet, but it does all look relatively simple. I've realized that Christmas time is really one of the hardest to do crafts/baking because of all the OTHER stuff going on. (work parties, concerts, ugly sweater parties, ornament exchanges, Yule log ceremonies, etc.) I guess that's why they have Christmas in July!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Gryffindor: Where Dwell the Brave at Heart

I made this bag for my sister for Christmas a few years back. It was so fun to make! The pattern was free on Ravelry and includes charts for all 4 houses. (I really need to make a Ravenclaw one ASAP!) Since I don't know how to sew, I bought fabric for the lining and then gave it to my sister in pieces. (Nothing like a "some-assembly-required" present!)

Here's what it looks like on the inside once she sewed in the lining. This bag definitely combines 2 of my loves - Harry Potter and Fair Isle! It was nice to only have to deal with 2 colors. The bag is actually quite big. Not Hermione's-purse-big, but it could hold a wand and few spell books for sure. 

Chels and I getting ready to head to Hogwarts... you can see the size of the purse better here. 

Gryffindor Pride!! 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday Musings # 25

I cannot stop listening to this. Happy Friday - I hope you all have a ton of holiday parties this weekend!! 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Cookie Cutter Chocolates

Last year I made chocolate filled cookie cutters for my coworkers for Christmas. It's a pretty inexpensive present that's easy to make in bulk. I bought a set of 20 cookie cutters from Wal-mart and spread them out on wax paper. I used Wilton chocolate and peppermint candy melts to fill the cutters. I filled them 2/3 of the way with chocolate and then topped them off with peppermint for the "holiday pizzazz."

I let them chill over night then put them in gift bags and wallah! Fun for everyone!

Wednesday Review: The Spirit of Christmas

Time to get out the Christmas books! Today's review is of The Spirit of Christmas: Traditional Recipes, Crafts, and Carols by Catherine Atkinson, Vivienne Bolton, and Alison Jenkins.

What I Like:
* The introduction includes a timeline of activities running from October to Christmas Day. I'm a sucker for proper planning.
* History! The intro for each recipe has fun facts about the history of the dish, like how plum pudding was brought to England by Prince Albert. KNOWLEDGE. It also includes tips and variations for each recipe.
* There is a wide variety of crafts. Most of them look pretty easy too - some basic sewing skills are needed for some, but they have ideas for ornaments, napkins, tree toppers, gift bags, and more.
* There are carols, poems, and excerpts from famous Christmas stories scattered throughout the book.

What I Don't Like:
* So, this isn't really what I don't like so much as what I think other people may not like. The crafts aren't mind-blowing. Most of them are simple and cute which I think is part of their charm.

I did make mini-mince pies last Christmas from the recipe in this book and I was surprised at how much I liked them. I wanted to do something traditional and they sounded better than fruit cake! I love the traditional take on Christmas.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


My Aunt Robin gave me the pattern for this easy to make baby sweater. I've made it twice - one for a boy and one for a girl. The first time I just bought normal black buttons. Then I found adorable dog bone buttons and knew I had to make it again!

This was the first sweater I made using different colors of yarn. I used Caron Simply Soft (LOVE THAT STUFF). I even took pictures of the back every 2-4 rows I knitted so was able to make this awesome gif:

If only knitting could really be done that quickly!

Monday, December 3, 2012


My mother and I are exactly 26 years and 14 minutes apart. Having a kid on your birthday kinda runs in our family. (I have 2 cousins who had their first child on their birthday too!) My mom is the best. For the first 16 years of my life I know my mom's birthday got overlooked as she was making me cakes and planning my birthday parties (which were totally awesome btw.)

So I just wanted to let my mom know how much I love and appreciate her and that I couldn't share my birthday with anybody more important!

Also I think we both agreed that we can start lying about our age now. So happy 40th birthday Mom!!

Also - my friend Virginia made this AWESOME gif of me. MY VERY OWN GIF people!!!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Pumpkin Patch

I'm not quite sure where November went. I feel like I blinked and it was over - though I guess technically we still have 5 days left. I just feel like it's December immediately after Thanksgiving. I did have grandiose ideas of making Christmas ornaments over Thanksgiving with my sister. However, when I opened the instructions for the ones I brought, those ideas went out the window.

I realized that if I started making these adorable Santa's, I'd have yet ANOTHER 1/2 finished project, so I decided to just keep-on-keepin'-on with my knitting. Anyways, coming off of Thanksgiving weekend, I thought I'd post about all the pumpkin themed desserts I made (for Halloween).

My friend Megan loves making iced sugar cookies. She brought over the candy corn and pumpkin cookie cutters for a baking day.

The royal icing was just thick enough that the ridges in the pumpkin stayed!

I also made a "pumpkin patch" courtesy of my Hello Cupcake! book. Unfortunately I didn't really get a good picture of the final product - but I think they turned out cute enough. The book says to use green licorice as stems, but I couldn't find any at Teeter, so improvised with tootsie rolls (which taste better anyways). Then used string gummy candy for the vines - though they didn't really twist prettily like they did in the book. The best part of these cupcakes? I used spice cake! mmmmm, I could go for one of those right now.

Also, this has nothing to do with pumpkins, but my Halloween Reddit gift-er gave me the BEST COOKIE CUTTER EVER:

AND I can use it again for non-skeletal gingerbread men this month! (Though maybe I'll have a few nightmare before Christmas ones heh)

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cottles in Wonderland

The Disney trip was AWESOME. So many things to post about. I'll start with Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party since Halloween is quickly heading further and further into the past.

The costumes we saw there were great! A lot of Disney themed ones of course - but also some random ones - one woman had a dress and matching wings that all lit up.

One of the best parts is you get to trick-or-treat around the Magic Kingdom!! They even hand out decent candy. Sure you get a lot of tootsie rolls, and some bottle caps, but ALSO - twix, snickers, and peanut butter cups!

And where else can you DANCE WITH WOODY?? All in all it was a fantastic night of dressing up. We did sign a few autographs until we were told to stop. Sorry little kids!! A few more pictures after the jump!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

We Survived!!

This was probably my favorite picture of Sandy. I had great intentions of posting all this week, but as I drove home from Florida on Sunday (13 hours in the car woohoo!) and passed about 50 cherry picker trucks heading north...

I knew things weren't going to be good. Being in FL all of last week, we didn't watch the news or talk to anybody from home. So while I knew Sandy was somewhere out there, I really only paid attention to whether or not it was going to be raining at the Magic Kingdom. (it did a little, but only sprinkles - otherwise the weather was perfect all week!)

On the drive home I start getting texts from my coworkers asking if I think we'll have to go in the next day because the government, schools, and the metro are all closed. WHAT IS GOING ON?? I went to work Monday, grabbed my computer and headed right back home. EXTENDED VACATION!!!! I managed to clear out my DVR in my 2-day Hurrication AND get some knitting done :) We did have some minor damage:

But thank God it fell in literally the only direction it could have to not hit anything. I have to admit I was a little sad our power didn't go out because I had the candles and a book at the ready!

Because of the days off, Halloween ended up being crazy. I had 3 days worth of work to do in one. Then when I got home I had to throw up as many Halloween decorations as I could since we had to take them all down for the hurricane. I had about 38 trick-or-treaters and was half way through Hocus Pocus when my power went out. A belated present from Sandy!! I went to my neighbors house for a few hours then went home and read by candle light before hitting the hay. Halloween isn't over for me yet though! I am having a party on Saturday... so time to start writing up my menu and get some more decorations out!!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Friday Musings #24

I still have a few things left to pack, but tomorrow I begin the 12 hour drive to Orlando, Florida! Woot!! Along with my whole family, I'll be going to the Magic Kingdom for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party, EPCOT for the International Food & Wine Festival, and of course, HARRY POTTER WORLD.

Can one ever have too much Butterbeer? Back in a week with lots of pictures!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Moldy Chocolate

Of course I'm talking about chocolate molds! Who doesn't love chocolate covered pretzels? It's the perfect combo of sweet and salty. I personally like the witches fingers best. They are the easiest and creepiest.

These pumpkin molds are pretty adorable as well. Wilton also has a brooms, witches, pretty much anything you can think of. You can put them on pretzels, or buy lollipop sticks (but really - why wouldn't you just use pretzels?) There's also stand alone molds like this awesome coffin:

No sparkly vampire in here! For a fun way of displaying, I put the pretzels in bags and then stood them up in a cup full of Reese's Pieces. YUM.

Wednesday Review: Martha Stewart Halloween Handbook

I have both the 2010 and 2011 Martha Stewart Halloween Handbooks. You can buy them almost anywhere that sells magazines. It is a little more pricey - but TOTALLY worth it. 

What I Like:
* EVERYTHING. She has the perfect mix of costumes, decorations, food, and templates for all of the above are of course included!
* Every year she dresses as something new and they are all awesome. I was googling past issues and she has done some creepy stuff!
* Martha really knows how to commit to a theme. Want spiders? (NO! who would EVER want those!?!?) Bats? Mice? For each she has different decorations and ideas on how to transform a whole room around the one subject. 
* There is a good mix of complicated and easy. The stuff in this magazine is not kitschy - it is done by professionals, and teaches you step by step how to do the same. However, I definitely don't have time to do all of the complicated projects. Luckily there are dozens of easy and equally cute ideas.
* All of the pumpkin carving ideas are amazing. Some include painting them, stacking them snow-man-style to create families of pumpkin people, and using Christmas lights to make them look like hedgehogs.. I mean the genius just never ends!

Seriously - if you love Halloween as much as I do - then just get one of her books - you will not regret it!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Easy Halloween Cupcakes

I am a HUGE fan of the Wilton cupcake accessories. Seriously - some paper and cleverly designed toothpicks can really transform your cupcake. AND its ridiculously easy to make a simple cupcake look awesome.

While I definitely want to make some of the crazy complicated cupcakes from Hello, Cupcake!, these are just as festive and waaaay easier. I've also used the graveyard set - and there are SO MANY MORE. Then there's the Duff cupcake tattoos. I didn't think I would like them very much, but they don't taste bad and are really easy to use.

And lets not forget all the fun cupcake stands! One can never have too many. (I think I have about 5 different stands.) I could really go for a cupcake now....

Monday, October 15, 2012

Grimm Grinning Ghosts

A week from today I will be in the Happiest Place on Earth... DISNEY WORLD!!! My absolute favorite time of year to go too - Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party AND the International Food & Wine Festival. My family went 2 years ago and we all dressed up as Wizard of Oz. (Above we met up with some random other dressed up people - you can see everyone really goes all out!)

Half the fun of going for Halloween is seeing every body's costumes. This Bert & Mary Poppins was one of my favorites - even has the umbrella! We had tons of people ask to take pictures with us. In fact, for the first hour we were in the park, we had a line of little children lining up to ask for our autographs! Chelsea and I were getting creative by the end. I started drawing little broom sticks in my signature.

Mrs. Potts and Chip! 

This year we're going as Alice in Wonderland characters. And I get to be Alice!! No more green paint rubbing off on everything :D

I can't wait to see cute little kids dressed up this year. Seriously - SO CUTE.

We'll definitely get some good pictures out of our trip. What are you all dressing up as for Halloween??