December 26, 2010

Merry Christmas!

 Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas
I hope your day was just as wonderful as ours.

See you in 2011!

December 14, 2010

Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies

Audrey and I are headed to a holiday cookie exchange today. It didn't take me long to decide to make Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies to bring. This recipe has become my go-to recipe when cookies are needed. People LOVE them. I'm not a huge fan of chocolate, but even I think they are pretty good. I didn't create this recipe, but for the life of me, I don't remember where it came from.

Chocolate White Chocolate Chip Cookies (yields 24-30 cookies)
2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar
2 eggs at room temperature
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup cocoa powder
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
1 cup white chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cream together the butter and both sugars. Mix in the vanilla extract and eggs, one at a time.
3. Add the cocoa powder and mix to combine. 
4. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Slowly combine into cocoa mixture until just combined. 
5. Stir in chocolate chips. 
6. Scoop cookies onto a baking sheet into approximately one inch balls. I use an ice cream scoop, which makes it really easy. 
7. Bake the cookies at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Cookies will appear underdone. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly before transferring to a wire rack. 

I think the other moms will be pretty happy with these.

December 9, 2010

I have something a tad bit embarrassing to admit.

(drum roll please)

I do not know how to USE. A. PATTERN.

Yeah, you know, those things that you buy in the envelopes with the pretty picture on the front of whatever you plan on making. The things that I am pretty sure everyone uses when they start to sew because (supposedly, I really would have no idea) it tells you what to do. Yep, no idea where to even start!

I'm really not sure how it happened. I think it may have stemmed from my penny-pinching ways and not being willing to shell out $15 on something I could just wing. Or maybe it was because the first thing I made after getting my sewing machine was a tablecloth and it was just a rectangle... that couldn't be too hard, right? I didn't need a pattern to tell me to hem the edges and I'd be done. Nonetheless, somehow I have gotten here and I look at those envelopes and feel a daunting sense of dread because I'm not sure what to do after I take out the tissue like paper. Am I supposed to cut out the pieces or use some fancy tool? What if I cut in the wrong spot? What is up with all those little triangle looking things? What is a notion and why is it called that? You get the idea.

That leads me to this...
Simplicity 3709.  A pattern that doesn't involve pleats, or darts, or sizes of any kind. A one size fits all kids "busy book". A pattern I bought when I found out I was pregnant, long before I knew if we were having a boy or a girl, long before I was even showing. It was my "oh my gosh, we are having a baby" buy. I didn't buy baby clothes, or books, or socks (we got a lot of baby socks when we found out I was that normal?), nope, I bought Simplicity 3709. And, sadly, to this day it still sits untouched on my sewing table because ... well, because it's a pattern.

All that is to say I'm tackling my fear of patterns and making Audrey a busy book. My goal is to have it done by Christmas. I have my fabric store coupons ready and I will be heading there tomorrow to get all the supplies. Wish me luck!

December 8, 2010

Reversible Christmas Stocking

As it is Audrey's first Christmas I thought she needed a stocking of her own. A trip (or two) to the fabric store, some cutting, ironing, and sewing and now she has a reversible, monogrammed stocking that hopefully she will be excited to use for many years to come.

I'm a little late to the party as there are many tutorials on how to make a stocking floating around the blogosphere, but just in case you were wondering, here's how I made mine.

Trace a stocking you already have onto paper to make a pattern, making sure to add several extra inches at the top so it can fold over.

Then using the pattern, trace and cut out two pieces of your outside material and two pieces of the inside material. Make sure to turn the pattern over for each material so that you can put right sides of the same fabric together. Also cut out two pieces of batting. 

You'll have to excuse the poor picture quality, I was sewing late at night and had very poor lighting.

If you want to add a monogram or other embellishment now is the time to do it. If not, just disregard the next step or two.
{I on the other hand, didn't decide until I had already moved on to the next step, so my pictures look a bit funny because the two pieces of lining are already sewn together half way.}

To make my monogram I used pretty much the same technique as the bird applique. Only this time I did two layers instead of one. If you are doing a letter or something that has a direction to it, make sure you trace it backwards.
Next, figure out where you want it on your fold. It will look upside down compared to your stocking, but remember that the top will be folded down. Iron it on and then sew it.
Now pin right sides of your fabrics together (outside fabric to outside fabric and inside fabric to inside fabric) and sew all the way around leaving the top open. 
Turn the outside fabric out and the stuff the inside fabric inside of it. 
Next, stuff a piece of batting on each side of the stocking between the two fabrics. Smooth it all down and you should have something that looks like a stocking. At the point you could turn the edges under and sew the outside fabric to the inside fabric and be done, but I decided to finish my edge with some double fold bias tape. 
The last step is to fold down your stocking and decide where you want a hanger to go and sew it on. Again, I just used bias tape because I had it and I liked that it matched. And now you have a super cute homemade stocking. Plus, since all the seams are finished you can reverse it whenever you want.

Here's to hoping your stocking gets filled with lots of goodies Christmas morning! Sadly, I think Audrey's will stay relatively empty this year.

One Month To Win It

December 6, 2010

Time Flies

I've been a bit absent lately. We have been going nonstop since Thanksgiving and having so much fun. I also have been doing some sewing, but as of right now I don't have anything quite ready to share so instead here are a few highlights of the past couple of weeks in photo form.

{An afternoon at the park}
{A photo shoot in her new tutu}

{Hunting for a Christmas tree}
{A weekend at my parent's cabin}

November 24, 2010

Be Thankful

Happy Thanksgiving. I hope everyone's holiday is grand.

I know that I have so much to be thankful for this year.
Especially one amazing little girl.
This is how she went to visit my parent's neighbor today. In her new homemade tutu, snow jacket, and hat. She was beyond cute and a hit amongst everyone we met along our way.  

November 17, 2010

Bran Muffins

I have always loved bran muffins. I think they are just so good. In my opinion a good bran muffin has to be super moist and the top should be just a bit sticky. I really could eat one just about every day.

I decided to make some at home a couple of years ago and was dismayed by the ingredients that went into these muffins. I had always thought they were healthy. No wonder they tasted so good, a lot of the recipes were full of oil and sugar. And the few recipes I did try didn't live up to my expectations. They were lacking flavor and on the dry side. So, I made up my own healthier recipe. I have to be honest, I am pretty proud of myself for writing my own baking recipe. For me, savory dishes are easier to create and improvise, baking is much more exact. I was obviously super excited when the muffins turned out and tasted good. Plus, if the online calorie calculators can be trusted each muffin only has 140 calories and are loaded with fiber and protein. Not a bad breakfast or snack.

Bran Muffins (Yields 1 dozen)
1 1/4 cup wheat bran
1/4 cup ground flax seed
1 cup nonfat milk
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 ripe banana, mashed
1 egg
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup white all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries (optional)

(I know, I know. There are a lot of ingredients. Trust me, the recipe is really simple.)

Start by preheating the oven to 375 degrees. Grease your muffin tin or line with paper muffin cups. 

In a medium bowl combine the wheat bran, ground flax seed, milk, lemon juice, and cinnamon and set aside. Let stand for 10 minutes. 

 In a separate bowl beat together applesauce, banana, egg, sugar and vanilla. Add in the milk/bran mixture and mix to combine.

Sift together flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Stir flour mixture into bran mixture until just blended. Fold in raisins or cranberries.

 Spoon into prepared muffin tins and bake for 15-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. 

Cool and enjoy! 

November 15, 2010

Just Because

Because it's Monday. Because I am not doing laundry today. Because I don't want to think about what we are going to have for dinner. Because it's nap time. And mostly because her little slobbery self is just too cute not to share.

November 12, 2010


I have been having some serious boot envy lately. Everywhere I go I see someone wearing a pair of super cute boots and I want them. As in I seriously, really, really want them. I almost stopped a lady in the parking lot the other day because her boots were just that cute. But when I go to the store and try a pair on, I always decide against them. For some reason they just don't look the same on me. Maybe it's the mirror or a poor outfit choice, but I never seem to be able to get that look that I'm after. Well, I think my search may be over. We went to Goodwill the other day (oh my, the amazing-ness of a second hand store!) and I found these boots and died. I LOVE THEM!
Now I realize they are not quite like all the cute boots I've been seeing out there. AKA not leather, not knee high, and not high heeled, but aren't they SO CUTE?!? My shopping partner didn't really share my enthusiasm and when I realized they were only a size 7 (I wear an 8.5 or 9) he was more than ready to move on. I was not. So, I tried them on and they fit. Yahoo!!
And now I am the proud owner of these second-hand, not quite trendy, off brand, $10, size 7, but fit size 8.5 feet boots.

The end. 

Happy weekend to everyone!

November 11, 2010

20 Minute Infinity Scarf

I love scarves. I think they are such a great accessory and pretty darn practical too. Plus, unlike my favorite pair of jeans or a shirt I really love, a scarf ALWAYS fits. There is something so nice and comforting about that fact. I made an infinity scarf (aka one big circle) out of this amazingly soft plaid. I have been wearing it pretty much constantly since I finished. It was so easy and I love how it turned out. If you are trying to think of quick and easy Christmas gifts this might just be a winner.

Here's what I did:
Cut a 1.75 yard piece of fabric (45 inches wide) lengthwise in half so you get two 22.5in x 1.75yd pieces. You will be able to make two scarves out of this. Or I guess you could get a 7/8yd piece of fabric, cut it in half and then sew it together to make a 1.75 yd piece and not have any extra material.

Fold the fabric in half long ways (right sides together) and pin it. Sew the seam leaving four inches at the beginning and end open. This is really important or it will be really hard a few steps later.

Iron open the seam.
Turn the fabric right side out and bring the two ends together. Starting on one side pin the ends. At this point your fabric should make a loop.
Sew the ends together.
You could hand stitch the opening shut and really try to hide the seam or, if you are like me, you can just sew really really close to the edge and hope that no one ever notices.

Not bad for a 20 minute scarf.
{Please ignore the bags under my eyes. The littlest one in the house has been wanting to party all night long lately.}

November 9, 2010

Book Page Wreath

I have been seeing a lot of wreaths around the blogosphere lately and thought I would give it a try. Inspired by this wreath over at The Crafting Chicks I decided to make mine out of old book pages too. I bought the styrofoam form at the dollar store and I had the book, glue and ribbon, so the whole thing cost me a whopping $1 and I only burned myself with the hot glue twice. Not bad.

This is not where it is going to hang (I'm thinking a mini-makeover in our dining room) and I still need to figure out how to tie the ribbon differently (better), but I think it is a fun new addition.

November 5, 2010

Happy Birthday

They say that a picture says a thousand words...

Happy Birthday, Mom!
You are amazing.

November 1, 2010

Pasta with Pan Roasted Cauliflower and Tomato Cream Sauce

Remember these pasta noodles I made a couple of weeks ago? Well, I made them to go with this Pan Roasted Cauliflower and Tomato Cream Sauce. It was a complete experiment, but turned out so good. I will definitely be making it again.

Pasta with Pan Roasted Cauliflower and Tomato Cream Sauce
1 head Cauliflower, divided into small florets
1/2 White Onion, chopped
1 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
3 Cloves Garlic, finely chopped
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
1 cup Chicken Stock
1/2 Cup Tomato Sauce
1/4 Cup Cream
Small pat of butter
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper

In a large sauce pan heat 1 tablespoon olive oil and small pat of butter. Add chopped cauliflower, season with salt and pepper, and cook until browned.

Remove cauliflower from pan. At this point I could have honestly stopped and just eaten this straight out of the bowl, who knew roasted cauliflower was that good. 

Add another tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and saute the onion and bell pepper until they are soft, about 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and red pepper flake and cook 3 more minutes. 

Add the chicken stock and tomato sauce. 

{If you are asking yourself why my tomato sauce looks like an ice cube, that's because it was frozen. I hate to throw anything out so when I open a can of tomato sauce if I don't use the whole thing I freeze what is left in an ice cube tray. 1 cube = 2 tablespoons, so 4 cubes = 8 tablespoons = 1/2 cup. It works great.}
Once everything is mixed together and has cooked a few minutes add the cream. I temper mine a little so that it won't curdle. Check your sauce for seasonings, it may need a little salt and pepper.

{My sauce got a little thick too thick because I was waiting until Bryce got home from work and it was later than expected. So, in short, your sauce should look saucier at this point.}

Finally, add the cauliflower back in, stir to coat the cauliflower with the sauce and cook until heated through. Toss with your noodles and enjoy!