December 27, 2009

Merry Christmas!

I hope y'all enjoyed Christmas. The weather was a bit nasty around here, and although I would have loved to be with my family, I'm very thankful to not have had to travel (farther than 10 minutes to the in-laws) this year. That made for a perfect day to sit around, relax, open gifts, eat cookies and drink coffee though. Yay!

So, here's what Santa's elves (i.e. me) cooked up for the darling niece and nephew this year:

For Marsh - a reversible superhero cape and mask

One side is a lightning bolt with the letter "M", and the other is the same skull and crossbones that I used here. Amazingly, he is still into pirates after all this time!

I used the cape pattern from The Long Thread again. Though, this time I replaced the entire collar with some binding that can just be tied in the front. I like the look much better than the awkward bunching that the velcro was causing before. I sort-of made up the eye mask - I hope it fits. It's red on one side and black on the other, so he can match it with either side of the cape.

I can't be sure he's even into this kind of thing, but hopefully he likes it!

You will see below that Jane received a drawstring bag for her toys, so I made one for Marshall too.

For Jane - blocks made from Amy Butler's Little Stitches

I ended up making 8 different blocks that are about 4 inches big. Half of them have bells tucked inside for a little fun that's not too obnoxious, and the other half have ribbons attached. Hopefully, she will find some entertainment in the "tags."

The pattern comes with directions to make a drawstring bag to store them. I had fun with it by adding extra fabrics and ribbons. I love the way it turned out.

Well, those were the big projects of the season. I sure had fun making them, and I hope the kids enjoy them. The only other project was pillows for my mother-in-law. I'll post those soon.

December 24, 2009

It's Christmas Time in the City

Christmas is shaping up around here. It's been a busy, overwhelming, and a kind-of fun season so far this year. Wow, is that scrooge-ish or what? I think the deal is . . . I started a new job right after Thanksgiving, and, my brain power for anything outside of work has significantly lowered in the last month making Christmas preparations far more overwhelming than usual. Anyway, I have been working on a few things, I promise - I just can't reveal a few of them until tomorrow, but I can show you the other things I've been up to.

I woke up on Saturday morning with what felt like a LONG to-do list. To be honest, it wasn't that bad. Nonetheless, I woke up, had some breakfast, was enjoying some time reading my Bible, and then out of nowhere got into one of those moods that was like "Ugh, my life is so hard. I need to take a nap because that sounds far more doable than my ever-growing to-do list." It was a very sad state, so I succumbed to it and I napped - at 10:00 AM!

Once I woke up, though, I had a come-to-Jesus moment, realized my life wasn't so bad and that I could carry on. Good grief! I hope other people do this kind of thing too. It's got to be normal, right?

First thing I did was finish up the Christmas cards. I really enjoyed that process this year. Here's all the different kinds that came off the assembly line:

Once again, Jesse wrote the recap of our year for the letter inside, which always makes me laugh. I love that man.

Later, I did a little baking. I started with molasses cookies. Yum! For some reason I was craving them last Christmas season, and I found a yummy recipe. Here it is:

Yummy Molasses Cookies (with icing)

3/4 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup white sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup molasses
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground ginger

Mix together butter, sugar and egg. Stir in molasses. Combine the last 6 ingredients in a separate bowl. Blend flour mixture into the molasses mixture. Cover and chill for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Roll dough into walnut sized balls, and roll them in a small bowl of white sugar. Place the cookies onto ungreased baking sheets - beware, they will grow! Bake for 8-10 minutes, until tops are cracked.

Once the cookies have cooled, make some icing.


1 egg white
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

Beat the egg white until frothy. Then, beat in the sugar and vanilla until thoroughly mixed. Spread onto cookies, wait for the icing to harden, and . . . enjoy!

Lastly, I got inspired by a friend to make some biscuits for the pups in the family. So, I did some baking and then sent some packages out to my sisters and their sweet dogs.

They also got some strawberry jam, which I had been promising to to Em for a long time now. Mom got a package too, but she got molasses cookies for her pup (Dad) instead of biscuits. It sounds like he's already enjoying them - having claimed the whole bag before Mom even saw them. Now, before you think I just left Ben and Ali out of this mix completely, you'll have to see what I made for the kiddos . . . but not until tomorrow!

December 10, 2009

Pearberry Pie

We had one of the most wonderful of all Thanksgivings here in Iowa this year. My parents and my sister and her husband came to visit, and boy did we have a good time. We ate a lot and shopped a lot! And, that is what Thanksgiving is for, right?

For our fanciful feast we were in charge of bringing the sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce and pie to my mother-in-law's place. I had a great time planning the menu! Here's what we brought:

Sweet potatoes - a wonderful recipe from Em. She used the recipe last year and raved about it, so I had to try it this year! Who knew that sweet potatoes could be even better with chopped pecans rather than marshmallows? It was awesome!

Mashed potatoes - an easy peasy recipe that I threw together. Kinda the basic sour-cream-mashed-potato combo that most people do.

Stuffing - an interesting recipe from Oprah. Kind of a random place to get a recipe, I know, but it's Oprah's favorite! Anyway, the orange juice in it gives it an interesting kick. The girls seemed to like it and the boys thought it was a little weird. Isn't it kinda true that men don't like citrus-y things?

Cranberry Chutney - another one of Em's winners. This sauce has pears, golden raisins and cranberries. Seriously, it's better than any cranberry sauce I've ever seen or tasted.

Pearberry Pie - this was the big risk of the evening, but it turned out to be a hit! I needed to try something that was a little "out there". Cause I'm like that . . . and . . . my mother-in-law was providing wonderful standbys like apple crisp and pumpkin pie, so I knew that if mine failed we would still be eating well. Turns out the pear and cranberry mixture is the perfect combination of "sweet" and "tart" in a pie. Did you see the crust in the picture, too? I'm getting better at my crimping. Still not a pro, but better. Here's the recipe. Thank you, Betty Crocker.

Look - see, Em and Cory are enjoying it.

And, so is Dad. He was the one that affectionately coined it "pearberry."

Here's all of us after our tummies are quite full.

For the rest of the weekend we just shopped, played and shopped some more.

Em and Mom while having lunch.

Playing on main street.

And . . . one last picture to show you that Scout was probably having the best weekend of us all. Cory and Em spoiled him like one of their own. He was quite smitten with them.

December 9, 2009

Capes and Crowns

Wow. I had no intention of taking a blog break like that. November must have been a little busy! I'll see if I can catch you up on the creative happenings from this household in the next couple of posts.

First, we have the second installment of the nieces' birthdays. Reagan's birthday happens at the end of October and Peyton's at the end of November. In an effort to keep their lovely mother somewhat sane we celebrated both birthdays in the middle of November.

Now, you may remember the birthday gifts given to the girls before Reagan's birthday - just in time for Halloween. Ah, what cute fairies they were. I posted a couple of extra photos from Halloween on that post, if you want to see the update.

For Peyton's birthday I decided that capes and crowns were in order. What little girl wouldn't want to dress up as royalty or as a girly superhero whenever she would like? Thankfully, just in time for making these gifts The Long Thread posted a tutorial for a crown that goes with her previously posted tutorial for a cape. I love it when that happens!

Here's Reagan, her majesty.

And, here's Peyton.

The crowns came out too big. Bummer! And, the neck portion of the cape is really weirding me out. Why the bunching at the top? I think I need to either cut it differently or it should be replaced with binding that can just be tied. Course the girls wouldn't be able to tie them on their own - hence the beauty of velcro. Hmmm. I tried to correct it by reducing the neck portion in half, but it didn't seem to work.

Reagan really hammed it up the entire day. She was the cutest little gift-receiver that I ever did see - making sure to sucker her relatives into giving her everything under the sun.

Peyton, on the other hand, didn't seem to care much about the gifts, or the relatives, or the cake, or pretty much anything. She kicked and screamed nearly all day, which stressed out her mother and really amused the rest of us!

As a result, Reagan blew out her candles with her cousin Aiden rather than her sister. Oh well.

Here's to being 3 and 2! Happy birthday, sweet girls!