Friday, December 30, 2011

A Very Happy New Year to You & Yours!



Wishing your family a healthy and happy 2012!

Thank you for checking in on us this past year...
Its been great fun and I hope you have enjoyed our time together.

Lots of love,

Quentin

Monday, December 19, 2011

One Week To GO!



And the frenzy was in full force this weekend at our house....

It was a cookie-baking, card-signing, candle-making marathon and I can proudly say-- 

I made it to the finish line!  

(but barely!  : )

The highlight of the weekend:
(besides awesome cocktail party at neighbor's house...
complete with awesome baby-sitter at our house!)

was how wonderfully a couple things turned out...

First, I have to tell you--if you have never made meringues...

RUN OUT RIGHT NOW AND WHIP UP SOME EGG WHITES...

I promise you: it is the easiest thing in the world to make and you will amaze everyone with how elegant and lovely they are...same goes if you have never even had one--YOU MUST TRY ONE-- SOON!  


They are wonderfully delicious (AND! only like 25 calories a pop!)


I have always been totally intimidated by them, 
so--of course, when I saw the cover recipe in Bon Appetit, 
I had no choice: I had to try them.






Peppermint Meringues
Bon App├ętit  | December 2011
by Gina Marie Miraglia Eriquez

Ingredients

  • 3 large egg whites, room temperature
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 12 drops red food coloring



Preheat oven to 200°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using an electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt on medium-high speed until white and foamy, about 1 minute. With mixer running, gradually add sugar in 3 additions, beating for 2 minutes between each addition. Beat until firm peaks form, about 2 minutes longer. Add powdered sugar and peppermint extract; beat to blend, about 1 minute.

Dot coloring over surface of meringue; do not stir (the coloring will form swirls when piped). Spoon meringue into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2" tip. (alternatively, spoon into a plastic freezer bag, then cut 1/2" off 1 corner.) Twist top; pipe 1" rounds onto prepared sheet, spacing 1" apart.

Bake meringues until dry, about 2 1/2 hours. Let cool completely, about 1 hour (meringues will crisp as they cool). DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature between sheets of parchment or waxed paper.
































Next up:  Soy Wax Candles







For gifts this year, I made candles from soy wax...it was simple, fun and easy...and considering how expensive candles can be, I will definitely be making more.  

I bought a big bag of soy wax chips from Brambleberry and added a block of color...
once it all melted down, and it was off the heat--I added the essential oils: 

Cranberry Fig to the red and Siberian Pine to the green.

I poured them in water glasses I bought from Ikea.
Totally lovely and (I think...) a nice gift!









 And lastly, for today:



Home-made Chocolate-Caramel Christmas Bark

With roasted almonds and sea salt....






Dark chocolate gets melted and poured onto parchment paper.
Then, once set, milk chocolate does the same...I drizzle the butterscotch over the milk chocolate and
sprinkle with about a cup of roasted almonds and a dash of sea salt.  

I press in the almonds so they stay put...

 It gets broken up into bite-sized pieces and it pretty much never stays around long...
But it makes a great gift, too.

there is something I just cannot refuse about the salty-sweet combo.


just totally love it...


Did I mention the meringues are only 25 calories each??

: )












Monday, December 12, 2011

Ideas for a Home-Made Holiday Mantle




 Christmas is in full-swing at our house.
We got our tree this weekend--so all the boxes of decorations came out too...We were busy!

During the last two weeks, I've also been busy collecting ideas on how to 
decorate our mantle this holiday season...

(or, really, I should say I've been ripping off  the gorgeous propping and photo shoots I have seen in the million of catalogs we seem to get this time of year...)

It started with the Garnett Hill catalog...I fell in love with their (out of stock and kind of pricey) felt tree trio...check them out here.  As soon as I saw them,  a) I LOVED them and b) I knew I could make them...but then I thought...hmmm, I bet someone else out there has made them too.  

And sure enough:  check out the directions I found from Sew Homegrown here.  
I did use the paper mache cones that you can buy at Michael's...Very inexpensive and easy to work with.

Here is an overview of the mantle so far....






Oh! These little cuties are so, so sweet and I want to make a million more...I made these 2 years ago and if you love all things tiny like I do...make a couple...they were not that hard at all.
Directions here.  From Martha...



The houses are paper mache that I bought thru Hobby Lobby's website.  
I think for the three of them (small, med & large) the set was $10.  I painted 
and sprinkled glitter on them...I want to cover the windows and door with tissue
paper, so I can put a battery operated candle in them so they glow, 
but probably won't get around to that anytime soon....



The snow globe was fun to make...Got the idea here.









The topiary needs some fine tuning, i.e. smaller berries...but this was
easy to make.  I got a moss ball at the craft store, put a stick in it and then put
it in a little pot I add, using some floral oasis foam to keep it put.  
I covered the foam with moss.


The little critters are ornaments that I got on sale at Macy's.



It still kind of a work in progress, but my thinking was part village, part forrest with woodland creatures, part whimsey, and part mercury glass...I love mercury glass!!  I need to invest in some good pieces; these here are just cheap knock offs...but for now they do ok....

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Holidays Are Here!



The holidays are here and YIPEE!! I love them so much...I am especially excited because for some odd reason this year, I am WAY ahead of my usual scramble-at-the-last-minute schedule.   Christmas cards ordered: check!  Christmas gifts shopping for cousins and friends: check!  Home-made Christmas gifts for teachers and friends figured out, supplies ordered and ready to roll: triple-check!  

All by December 5...not bad!  
What makes things even nicer is pulling out the holiday crafts I have made in years past...
that are already done!  
Like my LOVELY ADVENT CALENDAR...

that I made for the kids last year.





If you google "home-made advent calendars" (and click images) 
there is gaggle of interesting and fun ideas out there...I looked at  ALOT OF THEM--everything from Land of Nod to the craft blogs...

And in the end, the one I ended up making was one that I designed myself because I wasn't seeing anything that suited me exactly right.  I have one place to put it and that is on the back of the front
door, so it had to be long and skinny...I loved the color scheme of:

Red, Hot Pint, Dark Green, Medium Green and like a lime Green






At Christmas time, Trader Joe's sell chocolate coins (from money around the world)
and the make a perfect little treat for each pocket.




This year, the kids put four in each pocket--just so Greg and I can grab a bite
of chocolate as we are headed out the door....



Did I mention how much I LOVE the holidays...



Here are some shots of the outside of the house.





Josie, The Christmas Dog...all she needs is red bow!