Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas gifts #5 (Can I use a 5 a third time and get away with it?)

Yup, this is my third 5th Christmas gift...making it, in actuality, #7. I really am this cool.

I know, these are sooo obvious, but shh don't tell yet!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Fun Christmas Events

I love this season! I think it is so much fun to spend time with family, plan cool Christmas gifts for people, and do lots and lots of baking (not that I don't do that anyway).

Now that we live in San Francisco, a whole array of cool things are available to us that weren't before. So my Aunt Linda, Oma, Nick and I went to tea at the Palace Hotel. And it was so much fun :)

We got yummy tea cakes and our choice of hot loose leaf tea in our own tea pot and pretty one-bite desserts, plus Mr. Nicholas and I each got a crown and scepter :D Pretty sure the whole thing is geared toward kids (at least the package we bought) but I didn't care, I was having a blast. And we even got a photo with Santa :)

Other fun events on the itinerary this year: Birthday Dinners (yes, two of them!) for Mr. Nicholas, Napa Valley (there's no better way to celebrate turning 21 years old!), two Christmas celebrations, Gingerbread House Competition (yay!) most of which end up being not-houses, and maybe a drive through the best and worse Christmas Decorations in Fresno. Yay! Who in the world doesn't love Christmas :)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Christmas Wrapping 2

I know this is almost a cop-out but...

And even thought cellophaning (is that a word?) and tying up a gift is a cop out, I still love how it turns out. You can see into it so you know what you're getting, but the multiple items are still contained in a way that makes it easy to carry...I don't know, I just think it's fun.

I suppose everyone has a favorite way to wrap gifts, right?

Christmas gifts #5 (Busy busy busy...)

:) I love this season

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Christmas Traditions

My Mom always had a tradition of buying a Christmas ornament for me and my brother ever year. I now have 22 beautiful Christmas ornaments that remind me of how much I am loved, and I think it was the best tradition my parents every put together for us.

So not to rip them off or anything but...

This is mine and Nick's Christmas ornament from this year :) It happened kind of spontaneously...we were standing in Michaels admiring the ornaments and just decided that we would go ahead and buy just one...and it turns out that we both liked the same one :)

But I might go ahead and let Mom buy her future grandchildren their one Christmas ornament per year...I think they'll like that (and she will too!).

What about you-- do you have any fantastic Christmas traditions that I should consider adopting?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Menu 12/7

I've decided it makes more sense to blog after we make a meal than before. So...

Wednesday: Chicken Marsala from More Than a Cook Book.

Yeah, I liked this one so much I took a picture. Crazy.

Thursday: Mozzarella Eggplant Bake from Taste of Home. I love my taste of home cook book. I love eggplant. So much love :)

Friday. Over the Border Enchiladas from Taste of Home Aug/Sept Magazine. Have I recommended you subscribe to this magazine yet? Because if I haven't done that, I really should.

Saturday: Bacon Cheese Fries from No More than 5 Ingredients. These are technically an appetizer, but we rarely care about such arbitrary categories. 

Sunday Baked Fish with Cheese Sauce from Taste of Home Magazine Oct/Nov. I over thickened this sauce, and therefore didn't like it. I hate it when recipes say to "cook until thickened." Thickened to what consistency?? I can get it so thick it won't come out of the pan, or just thick enough that I can tell the difference. These are widely different, see what I'm saying? So frustrating.

Monday: Baked Creamy Macaroni, my great grandmother's recipe (that she cut out of something and glued into her old cook book). Nick and I have used two types of macaroni and cheese; the one where the uncooked noodles get cooked during the baking, with cheese layered between and the dish filled with milk, or the one where you cook the noodles and cook a cheese sauce and then bake it...

I like the former, Nick likes the latter. When we sign the divorce papers, the reason for separation will be "macaroni."*

But first we have to get married.

Tuesday: Golden Parmesan Potaotoes from Good Cookin with Good Friends. We expected this recipe to be really bland: it was potatoes cut into slices, battered in salt, pepper, flour, and Parmesan cheese, placed in a casserole dish with a 1/3 cup of melted butter at the bottom, and baked for an hour, covered. But it was tasty!! Weird :)

*We do not actually plan on getting divorced. Who plans on getting divorced? Ridiculous.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Christmas gifts #4 (I am the Poster Child for Productivity)

Aren't these cool? They're bottled in washed beer bottles and corked with old wine corks...and I love them :) I'll show you more later!! (No spoilers yet :) )

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Happy Birthday!

Seriously, today marks the First birthday of my blog :) Cool, right?

The blog was started as a way for me to keep track of what I like to do and don't like to do, ideas for future projects and ways that things haven't worked in the past. I will still for sure keep doing that (it's fun for me, and useful, too) but I have some goals for improving it.

1. Photography. I took a photo developing class in high school, but it was all about the darkroom experience, and not about what to do before you get to the darkroom. I would love to take a couple classes on composing photos, because I think it would be hugely beneficial to my blog...but also a lot of fun :)

2. Social Networking. I think since my original intention of the blog was to keep track of things I've done, and not to share with other people, I tend to shorten instructions and tutorials with the knowledge that I'll know how to do things later and won't need such detailed instructions. But I would like others to be able to replicate the things I do, so I want to focus more on that. The problem is, if I focus on each post more, I'll have to post less that ok, or should I stick with daily posts? I'm just not sure. I have so many ideas that they'll never all be posted if I don't post daily. Such a hard balance...

3. Customization. I pulled a background from one of those "free layouts" websites, but all the blogs I love to read (like Elsie's A Beautiful Mess and Le Wedding Party and Violet's The Quiet Life of Violet) have the most beautiful photographic headers. I want to do that! But first I have to learn #1!

There's always lots of other things I want to learn, but I think I have to keep it simple and not drive myself crazy with being inadequate :p I'm having fun, though...always :) And that's what matters!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Christmas Wrapping

I love wrapping gifts. I think you probably already knew this because of previous posts, but no harm in telling you again.

Here's two of my favorite gifts I've wrapped so far:

This is my step dad's gift (in the basket full of spanish moss) and my mom's gift (wrapped in fabric). And I love how they look :) So fun!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Perfumes Class

I have the best life ever. I get to do fun things all the time. All. The. Time.

Here's what I got to do the other weekend:

Do you know what those are? 

You can probably read the label, but I'll tell you anyway. 

Those are custom perfumes. Custom. As in, I chose which essential oils to combine to create them. 


And I was completely terrified that I would suck royally. But these smell good. And I made them! You wanna know how I learned? I took a class :)

You probably guessed that from the post title.

But it was awesome. So you should too :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Christmas gifts #3 (Yes, Really!)

These turned out so pretty :) But you have to wait until after Christmas to see them with labels and in gifts!

Christmas gifts #2 (another one!)

Here's another finished Christmas gift :) Still not telling what it is till after I give them out!

Monday, December 6, 2010

CHRISTMAS Decorations :)

So on December 1st Nick and I upgraded our Winter decorations to Christmas decorations :)

These are ornaments that my Mom has been buying me every year since I was born. Obviously I didn't put out all 22 of them, but here's some of my favorites :)

The kitchen is full of these salt dough ornaments...remember them? Since Nick and I made them together, we wanted to have them out where we got to see them the most...and it just so happens that we spend a lot of time in the kitchen :)

Three stockings; Lady, Cassie, and Mr. Nicholas :)

I liked the wreath as it was so I didn't want to overwhelm it with big ornaments...I just stuck to some tiny gold  ones and white snowflakes instead.

Pretty, yes? This way I feel like we're Christmasy...but we didn't blow hundreds of dollars on Christmas decorations at Target :) We did buy one ornament...but I'll explain him later :)

Menu 11/23

Tuesday: Chicken Casserole from More Than a Cook Book. This was terrible. 'Nuf said.

Regarding the cook book, though...every once in awhile we've come across a recipe that rocks our socks off. But the rest are either meh or nasty. So I wouldn't recommend buying it.

Wednesday: Shrimp Chowder from Taste of Home. We really liked this recipe, but I've noticed that most creamy soups I make call for WAY too much butter. I think I just have to make a general rule to cut the butter in half when I cook them.

Thursday: Hot ham and cheese slices from Taste of Home Magazine October-November 2010. These were like...home made hot pockets. Minus the microwave. And the frozen chunk in the center. Pretty cool, basically.

Friday: Hamburger Noodle Bake from Taste of Home Magazine August-September 2010. This was SUPER yummy. We have literally never picked a recipe out of this magazine that we don't like, so that's pretty impressive. Basically, I recommend you subscribe to this magazine. :)

Saturday: Chicken Stanley from the Rumford Complete Cook Book (circa 1931). This cook book is really hard to use. It is way outdated and the measurements stink and ick. But it was my great grandmother's, and it has her handwriting in it and I honestly just can't bear to not use it. So we made this and hey, it turned out ok. So there's all my complaining for nothing.

Sunday: Two Step Lasagna from No More than 5 Ingredients. This was the stupidest recipe. It called (seriously) to cook the whole thing in the microwave. Yeah. So since we thought that was ridiculous we just used the ingredients list and made our own simple lasagna.

1 lb ground beef, browned mixed with 2 jars spaghetti sauce (you can be cool and make your own or buy it in jars which can be reused for storage woo!)

1 box of lasagna noodle, al dente

14 oz ricotta mixed with 2 cups mozzarella

layer: noodles, meat, ricotta, noodles, meat parmesan cheese

bake for 25 minutes at 350.

We picked bad spaghetti sauces to use (that's what happens when you use what's on hand instead of buying new :/ ) but we were pretty happy with it. I think we needed a couple more cheeses-- maybe some cottage. Needs some tweaking, that's all.

Monday: Rice dinner

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Update: The Brown Sweater (Sleeve #1)


Please someone tell me that it's not December yet and I still have a couple months left to busy out a second sleeve, a collar, and finish this sweater. Please, someone. Anyone.

Menu 11/23

So this was a really short menu (because of Thanksgiving) but we still spent a lot of money...

Tuesday: Sicilian Meat Roll from More Than a Cook Book. Now, maybe I'm a food snob or something, but I like my food to LOOK good as well as taste good. Really, I think it's possible to ruin a perfectly good-tasting meal by having it look like it was thrown up out of a angry cookie monster on steroids. Sicilian Meat Roll was Uuhg-ly. So I hated it. Even though it tasted half-way decent. (But only half way).

Friday: Manicotti. We made this dinner for my future Mother in Law and her boyfriend, my future brother in law and his girlfriend, and the two of us. And it was so much fun :) Everyone was super appreciative and thanked us over and over...I love cooking for people :) (Especially when what I cook doesn't look like Sicilian Meat Roll). This is why we spent so much money-- cooking for groups gets expensive :/

Monday: Lazy Lasagna, from Taste of Home. I would like to rename this dish "Baked Pasta Dish." Because it was not lasagna. I have a theory (stop me if I'm wrong) that if you try to get lazy with lasagna, you're no longer working with lasagna. Just a personal theory though, you know.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Winter Decorations

So I have a policy about Christmas decorations. And this policy is subject to change as soon as I have children, but here's the policy as it stands today:

No Christmas decorations (or music) until after December 1st. Christmas decorations must be taken down by New Years day. No, seriously.

But I'm all for decorating for "winter" between times. Which means pine and red and blue and white are all fair game after Thanksgiving and until the end of winter.

So here's my winter decorations :)

And the coolest part? I didn't spend any money :) The pine branches came from our local tree lot, and I guess they give them out for free :D and the rest of the decorations came from my aunt. I'm way lucky :)

Friday, December 3, 2010

Menu 11/16

Wednesday: Crispy Garlic Chicken from No More Than 5 Ingredients. We made this a couple weeks ago, and I have a notation in my cook book that it was "awesome". But you know what? I don't remember it. Pathetic.

Thursday: Fried Rice from More Than a Cook Book. I adore fried rice. It is my favorite meal every time we go to Chinese food. Favorite favorite favorite. I will literally only order fried rice for my dinner. This recipe was not fried rice. It was rice cooked like normal with vegetables and shrimp added. How can you possibly make fried rice without frying the rice? Pathetic.

Friday: Enchilada stuffed shells, from Taste of Home. We love manicotti, so we thought we'd try another recipe that uses manicotti shells and see if we like it as much. Nope. But that doesn't mean this wasn't super tasty, it really was :) Just not nearly as good as manicotti...

Saturday: Bacon-Blue cheese stuffed burgers from Taste of Home Magazine Oct. and Nov. 2010. We looooooved this recipe. I had never made my own burgers before, so I was a little iffy (plus we don't have a grill so we had to do ours in the oven) but man these were amazing. It was blue cheese, and bacon bits put between two thin patties which were then pressed together and cooked, with sauteed mushrooms over it. Oooh man so yummy.

Sunday: French Onion Soup from Good Cookin w/ Good Friends. No silly, not out of a can. We made it starting with onions :) And it was so fun! I don't like onions, and I even loved this soup! Pretty amazing :)

Monday: Stuffed Mushrooms.  We didn't use a recipe for this :)
Wash and de-stem large mushrooms (we did 12 and still had filling left over)
Mix 4 oz cream cheese, a cup of chopped shrimp, a cup of bread crumbs, and a 1/2 cup of parmesan.
Stuff mushrooms. Bake for 15-25 mins at 325.

Delicious :) AND simple!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

San Francisco Bead and Design Show

This is something fun Nick and I did a few weekends back :) We got a postcard in the mail that got us in to the Show for free, so we just got to see all the pretty things. There were a couple things that I thought were worth mentioning: one I couldn't find a card for, but she did cool enamel flowers on bracelets and hair pins, and watch part necklaces and bracelets. Very pretty :)

2. Elemental Adornments. The bird houses and journal necklaces are sooo pretty. I would get in one a heartbeat! If I could afford it :/

3. Fabric into Jewels. This was a super cool shop where the artist builds her pendants out of cloth and beads, soaks them in a glue, and then when they dry slices them into beads. It makes for some very beautiful pieces!

Menu 11/9

Tuesday: Chinese Casserole. More Than a Cook Book has a skewed sense of what constitutes Chinese food, in this case ground beef and cheddar cheese. Hmm.

Wednesday: Italian Cupboard Soup, No More Than 5 Ingredients. This was much like the Tuscan soup, except it had chicken added.

Thursday: Oven Fried Chicken, from Taste of Home. Super bland.

Friday: leftovers

Monday: Texas Chicken Burritos, from the Taste of Home Magazine. These were delicious. Enchilada sauce and chicken and olives and Mexican cheese all wrapped up in a tortilla :)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Christmas gifts :)

Welcome to the first day of December-- and in the spirit of the season, here's the beginning of my Christmas gifts:


But I'm not telling who these are for, or what they are yet (that's why I photographed them pre-labels :)