December 14, 2011


I cannot remember a single Christmas as a child or an adult that we didn't have toffee. It is just part of Christmas. Get a tree, put up lights, hang the stockings, MAKE TOFFEE. But for some reason I never seem to write the recipe down or save it. Each year I have to call my mom and ask for it. This is the "recipe" she emailed me this year.

Each year I get less and less detail in the recipe she sends. My guess is next year she won't even include the line about Hershey bars or chopped nuts.

Luckily, it is a simple recipe and I do remember the rest. Please don't judge the pictures too harshly I made this at night.

1/2 pound butter (2 sticks)
3 teaspoons water
1 cup sugar
Hershey bars
chopped nuts

Spread a layer of chopped nuts, whatever kind you like, on a cookie sheet. 

Combine the butter, sugar, and water in a pan. Be warned though, do NOT use a non-stick pan. It won't work. I don't know why, I'm sure science could explain it, I just know it won't work. 

Stir the mixture constantly until it turns brown like the color of a paper bag.

Once it is brown pour out the mixture over the chopped nuts in an even layer. I'm sure this goes without saying, but DON'T TOUCH this stuff, it is hot! 

Break up a Hershey bar or two or three and drop it on top of the hot toffee every inch or so. 

The heat from the toffee will melt the chocolate and you can spread it out with a spatula. 

Let the toffee cool and break it into pieces. Enjoy!

December 13, 2011

Bubble Bath Paint

I'm not sure what rock I've been hiding under, but I just stumbled upon the blog Meet The Dubiens. It is full of beautiful photos, great kid lunch ideas (bento boxes!), and fun crafts. I've been trying to think of something simple and homemade to give to a few of Audrey's friends when I saw this tutorial for bubble bath paint and knew it would be perfect.

The recipe is simple. A little tear free bubble bath, some cornstarch and food coloring and you have bubble bath paint. You can find the exact recipe here over at Meet The Dubiens.

Audrey tried it out a couple of nights ago and loved it, she didn't want to get out of the bath. And just as Jill said, it didn't stain the bathtub at all. In fact it was probably cleaner after "painting" than before. Now if only I could figure out how to mix a little actual cleaning solution into the recipe I could make my bathroom cleaning woes come to an end.

Audrey's friends are each getting their own four pack of bubble bath paint along with a few paint brushes. A perfect, simple, and homemade Christmas gift for a toddler.

Posted at:
We Did It! Wednesday at Sew Much Ado

December 12, 2011

Felt Play Mat

I finally finished the felt play mat for Audrey's friend. I'm really happy with how it turned out, but more than anything I'm just so glad to be done. Especially considering I will be giving it to him seven months after his birthday.

The little boy's dad works at Campbell's so I made sure to include it on the play mat.

I also used super stiff fusible interfacing to attach the outside pieces and it worked so much better than trying to glue it.

Just like the other play mat I finished on time I used this tutorial from Cook Clean Craft.

Posted at:
We Did It! Wednesday at Sew Much Ado

December 7, 2011

Sick Days

Sorry it has been quiet around here lately. I came down with the flu. Which means I've spent much of the last several days as a slug on the couch watching way too many reruns of Felicity on Netflix, living off of peppermint tea, and whining to Bryce about how I think I am dying. 

Thankfully the worst of the flu symptoms have passed, but it seems they have been replaced with strep throat (or some sort of viral throat thing). I'm just glad that so far both Audrey and Bryce seem to be fine. I'm definitely trying to keep my distance.

I'll be back in a few days with something a little more fun, but until then, have a great rest of the week and stay healthy! 

December 2, 2011

Photo Friday: Her Father's Daughter

Audrey is definitely her father's daughter. I took all of these photos in a span of just 20 seconds and look how similar the expressions on their faces are in each one. 

December 1, 2011

Christmas Decor

I just love this time of year; the lights, the decorations, the tree, everything about it. I started doing a little decorating over the weekend. It is very simple, cost me next to nothing, and most importantly Audrey-safe. Here's a little look at what I've done.

Our "mantel". 
The Luke printable is from Betty Crocker Wannabe.

Our advent calendar. 
I made this for Bryce years ago after he mentioned he wanted an advent calendar. I had seen something similar in a Pottery Barn magazine and figured I could make it myself. What I didn't realize, not having had advent calendars growing up, was that Bryce was talking about the simple, one dollar, cardboard tree advent calendars you can buy at the Dollar Store. He was floored when I showed it to him, and years later I'm really glad we have it.

Advent candles. 
This is the first time I've done advent candles, but I think it is such a great tradition and reminder of what the season is really about. If you're interested I came across this great site for daily advent devotionals.

Our tree.
We started with a few ornaments towards the bottom of the tree also, but it was very obvious that that wasn't going to work with a toddler running around. Now we have a half-decorated tree. I think it is slightly pathetic and also a little endearing.

What about you, have you pulled out your decorations yet?

November 29, 2011

Willow's and Zaydee's Busy Books

 Before we left for Omaha I finished and shipped a couple more orders for the shop.

Willow's mom asked for a light purple/lilac version of the busy book.

And Zaydee's aunt wanted multicolor with pinks and greens.

I hope they both are excited to see them under the Christmas tree this year!

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Get Your Brag On at Gluesticks

November 28, 2011

Homemade Toys = Complete Success

I forgot to mention, but the homemade toys were a complete hit with Audrey. They kept her entertained for a long time, especially the collecting game with the pom poms. My biggest regret was not having another game or two that was new for the return trip.

Definitely give them a try this season if you are doing any sort of traveling. Just be careful with the pom poms, they could be a choking hazard if you aren't looking.

Vacation Recap

Here's a little recap of our trip last week in picture form. Fair warning, there are a lot of pictures.

Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo is totally and completely amazing! I was blown away by how great it was. We will definitely be making a return trip just for the zoo. Here we are watching the gorillas.

Here is the best photo I got of Audrey and Bryce at the wedding we went to. Major photography fail on my part.

Outside of Monticello (Thomas Jefferson's home).  The house was nice, but I thought the grounds were beautiful.

 This pictures makes me laugh. By the looks of Bryce you would think it was 30 degrees out and down pouring. It was more like 60 with a little bit of mist... I think Oregon might be a bit of an adjustment for him. Oh and in case you're wondering, here we are outside of James Monroe's home.

Bryce's family. 

November 25, 2011

A Must Try Recipe: Mexican Chicken Casserole with Charred Tomato Salsa

Source: Cooking Light
This recipe for Mexican Chicken Casserole with Charred Tomato Salsa from Cooking Light completely surpassed all of my expectations. I had leftover chicken that I didn't know what to do with so I decided to give this a try. I made the full recipe but split it between two pans with the intention of freezing one of them. It was so good that that never happened, we cooked the second pan full just a few days after the first one.

A quick note about how I made this dish:

*I had made this recipe for Cafe Rio Chicken from Chef In Training earlier in the week and used the leftover chicken for the casserole. It gave the dish such a great flavor, I would highly recommend it.

*Although I haven't tried it, I'm sure you could substitute turkey for the chicken and use up some of the leftovers from Thanksgiving.

November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

We are back home after a long travel day yesterday. We were lucky not to have any delays to our flights, but the day still felt never-ending nonetheless.

Now Bryce is back at work, Audrey is sleeping, and I am enjoying a lazy hour or two on the couch before she wakes up. Later Audrey and I will join some friends for Thanksgiving dinner. 

I hope you all have wonderful days full of lots of family, friends and food. 
H A P P Y   T H A N K S G I V I N G!

November 18, 2011

Photo Friday: Our Little Monkey

I've had this great idea for awhile now to give a makeover to our Expedit bookcase. So the other night instead of packing or sewing or doing any one of the many other things I should have been doing I gave it a go.

The "makeover" was a complete and total flop, but on the plus side Audrey thought the empty bookcase pulled away from the wall made for great fun. This might just become my new go-to activity on rainy days.

November 17, 2011

$2.48 Airplane Toys

We have a lot of flying in our near future. First to Nebraska later today, then to Virginia on Sunday, and back home to California next week. Anyone who has traveled with a toddler knows that keeping them entertained and relatively still for that long will be a challenge. So we came up with a few new (also ridiculously inexpensive and homemade) toys to try to keep little miss Audrey (and all the fellow passengers) happy. 

A Collecting Game
Audrey is fascinated by putting different items into containers and taking them out again so this is perfect and couldn't be more simple. Bryce put holes in the top of a deli container and melted them a little to get rid of any sharp edges. Add a package of pom poms at $1.99 and that is all there is to it. Audrey can push the poms poms through the holes to her little hearts content.

A Stringing Game
I went down to Home Depot and bought two feet of rope for a whopping total of 49 cents. We put a knot in one end and wrapped the other with electrical tape to make it stiff. Add in the blocks we borrowed from her train set and now she has her own stringing game.

It always amazes me how the simplest little things seem to grab her attention, hopefully these will do the same. I'll let you know how it goes.

And don't worry, I'm not completely disillusioned that these two toys are the answer to toddler-airplane happiness. We also have a bag full of toys, books, and food; along with a few new apps on our phones and a computer full of new-to-her movies. Wish us luck.

Posted at: 
The Saturday Seven Party at Positively Splendid
Made by you Monday at Skip To My Lou 
Creative Bloggers Party and Hop at Homemaker on a Dime
Get Your Craft On at Today's Creative Blog 

November 9, 2011

Haily's Busy Book

November is proving to be an extremely busy month. Audrey and I have already taken one plane trip out of town and we leave for another one next week. In between trips I'm busily working on getting all of the shop orders finished and mailed. Before we left last week I packaged and shipped Haily's Busy Book. Her mom asked for a pink version so I used many of the same fabrics I used on Audrey's.

I just love the look of the books all packaged and ready to ship.

I have two more books to finish before we leave town again so things may be a little quiet around here for the next few weeks.

Also, I will only be able to make a few more books with a guaranteed Christmas delivery. I would love for you all to get the first chance to purchase one so if you are interested in buying a Busy Book send me an email and I can put up a special listing just for you.

Posted at: 
Saturday Seven Party at Positively Splendid
Get Your Craft On at Today's Creative Blog

October 31, 2011

A Must Try Recipe: Pork Shoulder Ragu from Dinner: A Love Story

Source: Dinner: A Love Story

I found this recipe for Pork Shoulder Ragu over at Dinner: A Love Story and it was a no brainer. I've had a pork shoulder in the freezer for awhile and this just sounded delicious, I had to make it. Luckily, I was not disappointed. It was ridiculously easy, melt in your mouth tender and absolutely delicious. You should definitely give this a try.

A few notes about how I made the dish:

* I followed the recipe up until the point when you are supposed to put it in the oven, instead I dumped the whole mess into the Crockpot, turned it on low and let it cook for almost 8 hours. It worked like a charm.

* We didn't have papperdelle pasta so I used fettuccine which was good, but I might have preferred a penne or rigatoni instead. Also I would make sure to cook the sauce and pasta together a bit before serving.

October 28, 2011

Photo Friday: Crazy Hair

People laugh when I tell them that Audrey often wakes up from a nap with her hair sticking up, or out, or otherwise all over, but it is completely true. 

She definitely has some crazy hair. It starts out stick straight, but throughout the day gets increasingly more curly and generally out of control. Maybe at some point we will have to consider a haircut, or hairstyle, or a bucket of gel, I'm not sure, but something that will tame it, until then though, she will keep on rocking the crazy hair.

Happy weekend all.

October 27, 2011

Eleanor's Rainbow Busy Book

Update: I have received many emails and comments asking about a pattern, it's posted in a few places around the blog, but I thought I'd add it to the top of this post too to make it easier to find. I followed Simplicity 3709 for these busy books, with very slight deviations. 

The Shop's first official order was shipped out yesterday. This book is going to a little girl named Eleanor for her first birthday. Super cute name, right? Her aunt ordered it for her and asked for a rainbow of colors with graphic prints and a bit of a vintage vibe.

I hope she likes it as much as I do because I fell in the love with the colors and fabrics while making the book. I'll admit, I might even be a little jealous that this isn't Audrey's book.

It was pretty fun to get to package the book up and ship it off. The first order just seems a bit special.

Oh, and if you're wondering why the shop is currently empty, it's because I'm up to my ears in orders right now. As soon as I get this batch of books finished and shipped I will add more listings. I'm so thankful for all the support and enthusiasm I've gotten about selling the books. When I listed the first one I didn't know what would come of it, but to have all the listings sell out in just a couple weeks time blew me away. So thanks!

October 24, 2011

The Pumpkin Patch

How was your weekend? Good, I hope. Ours was mostly spent being lazy, napping, watching Toy Story 3, and blowing our noses... a lot. That's right, Audrey was a sweetheart and shared her cold with me. And although I do remember telling Bryce at one point that I was seriously dying, the worst seems to have passed and we were able to pull ourselves together enough to go to the pumpkin patch on Sunday with my in-laws.

I'm pretty sure that once your kid can walk the pumpkin patch is some sort of requirement, you know, something you are supposed to do. Similar to a visit from the Tooth Fairy when a tooth falls out, an Easter basket from the Easter Bunny, and sitting on Santa's lap (I'm still trying to gear up for that one, something about the long mall lines and the somewhat creepy Santa freak me out a little). I'm also fairly certain Audrey won't remember this trip to the pumpkin patch, but she did have fun, so in my opinion it was totally worth it.

Can you guess what was the best part about the pumpkin patch? I'll give you a hint, it had nothing to do with pumpkins. It was the animals. There was any type of farm animal you could want and much to Audrey's delight there was a whole pen with baby goats and a sheep that you could pet and run around with. She was absolutely beside herself. Please ignore the blurry pictures, she was moving fast!
Aww, look at that sweaty little head... poor girl, she gets it from her dad.
Of course there were also pumpkins. We found a whole "patch" with pumpkins just Audrey's size.
Now if I can be a bit cynical for a moment... when did pumpkin patches stop being actual fields of pumpkins? This is what I remember from being a kid, you go to a farm, walk a really long way out to a super muddy field full of pumpkins, find the one you want, cut it off the vine and carry it all the way back to the car and if you couldn't carry it you couldn't have it. Isn't that how a pumpkin patch is supposed to work? I'm not the grinch or anything, but when did everything become so commercial. To me the best part is that this farm doesn't even grow pumpkins, they have them shipped in just like a grocery store does. We are going to have a whole generation of kids that think pumpkins magically appear on beautifully mowed lawns each October. When Audrey is old enough to actually remember going to the pumpkin patch you better believe we are finding one where the pumpkins are still on the vine. Ok, enough said, cynicism over. 

I asked my mother-in-law to take a picture of Audrey and me to prove I was there. Twelves picture later and I'm still not sure we got a keeper. I'll let you be the judge.

 All in all it was a great day at the pumpkin patch!

October 21, 2011

Photo Friday: A Bit Under The Weather

We have been doing a little more of this than usual lately. 

Audrey has been a bit puny the last few days. 
Meaning her normal energy level of 15 on a 1 to 10 scale is only about a 9 now. 
I feel bad she is sick, but I can't lie, I love all the extra snuggling that comes with it.

Happy weekend (and stay healthy)!