Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Nature Pics

Still having fun with my Nikon D60 and am amazed at the detail and beauty that can be seen when you get up close and personal with nature.

Christmas at Mom and Dad's

Christmas pictures from my Mom and Dad's house on Christmas morning.

Handmade Christmas #5

What are these you ask? I got this idea from Nicole over at Crafting Happens.

Bookmarks, of course. Really easy to make - and a perfect gift for a friend who loves to read! I modified the size slightly from the tutorial. The piece of paper I started out with was 8 x 4 instead of 7 x 3. But the smaller is great for a paperback and I made a bigger one at 10 x 5, but that was almost too big - maybe perfect for a magazine.
See how they work:

A little late for cookie recipes but...

I know, I know. A little late for Christmas cookie recipes, but seriously, I could eat these every.single.day. I have taken a picture of my pan just two days after these babies were made. Ah, heaven.

You may make these already, but these are a must-make of mine at Christmas. And,if you are a lover of coconut, and how could you NOT be, these are fabulous.

Seven Layer Cookie:

-1 C graham cracker crumbs

-1 stick melted butter

-1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips

-1 C butterscotch chips

-1 C flaked coconut

-1 C chopped walnuts

-1 can sweetened, condensed milk (NOT EVAPORATED!)

Melt (or pour melted) butter in bottom of jellyroll pan.

Add graham cracker crumbs - I always add more than the recipe calls for so that I get a nice covering on the whole bottom. But don't add too much, otherwise the cookie won't hold together.

Layer ingredients in order given.

Drizzle sweetened, condensed milk over the top and bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. After about 20 minutes, I keep a very close watch as the coconut can tend to get burned.

Handmade Christmas Gift #4

This is a really great little idea that I found on someone's blog (but I don't remember who's - so if you read this, send me a link!) Anyway - so easy-peasy and inexpensive.

What you need are clear glass ornaments, some fake, flaky snow (I found at Hobby Lobby), some scrap pieces of scrapbooking paper, a pencil and some festive ribbon. I have also seen these done in non-holiday colors (for instance, if you know someone who does a non-traditional colored tree, then you can make one to coordinate with that.)

So, I cut the pieces of scrapbooking paper in varying widths and lengths. I found that different textures (some foil paper, some plain, some glittered) compliment eachother the best. Add your snow and then wrap your paper around a pencil and put it through the top of the ornament. Depending on the paper weight, it will uncurl a little or a lot - but that's what makes each ornament unique and, best of all, HANDMADE! Then, I put the silver cap back on and looped some ribbon throught the hanger part. I think it took me about an hour to make 5 or 6 of these.

Family Christmas Pictures

Just posting some family pics from over the holiday. Here's my mom with the fabulous Christmas scented salt scrub that I posted last week.

This is my husband and my brother and his girlfriend.

Homemade Christmas Gift #3

So - I am a little behind on the posting of all the things I made for Christmas. Truthfully, I've been way too busy snapping pictures with my new Nikon D60.
Let's continue to the matter at hand...I happened upon a blog the other day call The Pleated Poppy. This lady is fabulous making all kinds of great stuff and she even has a store. But, it got my crafty wheels a-turnin' and after I saw this posting, I was on a mission. I went to Joann Fabrics and sifted through the remnant piles and, as luck would have it, not only are these fabrics usually a great deal because they are remnants, but they were also 50% off! Woo-hoo! So, you might be asking, what do you do with a pile of fabric like this?

Well - I used photoshop to design some flowers and created paper patterns in different sizes. Then, I cut them out and sewed them together and place a safety pin on the back for pining on - jackets, sweaters, scarves - think of the things these little darlings could dress up! The recipients of these were very, very happy.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Homemade Gift #2

Homemade Gift #2 is a bath and body gift. I had some canning jars laying around that were just begging for a project. So, I got the salt scrub recipe from this month's Martha Stewart Living magazine and ordered some coloring and essential oils online. Mixed it up, tied a ribbon on it and here's the finished product. I also made a trip to our local Whole Foods and bought some more essential oils to make a fragranced body butter - Quick and easy - Eucerine body cream (in a 16 0z plastic container) and about a teaspoon of oil.

It's Your Birthday! We're gonna party like it's your Birthday...

Yesterday was my 31st birthday - My parents treated us to dinner.  Here is a picture of my husband and I.  It's a little blurry - we're still getting used to the new NIKON D60 - which rocks, by the way.

Santa has been busy!

Santa has been very busy in her, um, I mean HIS, workshop.  And, about to wrap it up since it is Christmas Eve!
This is only one of the things I have made for friends and family this year.  What's better than a store bought gift?  A HOMEMADE one of course.  So, I have been busily toiling over crafts and the laundry room (or craft room, as my husband calls it) has been getting a lot of use lately as I'm burning the midnight oil.
Gift #1 - A red, white and green holiday dish rag:

Hope everyone is enjoying their holiday season!  I am.
Holiday Cheers-

Friday, December 19, 2008

Weekly Wrap-Up

Whew - what a week! Actually, it seems like this entire month has flown by. I think partly because the weather has been terrible here and it's hard to get out and do errands. So, you end up stock-piling them and then running around like a crazy trying to get everything done.
  • Last night, I spent some time in downtown Naperville, before the forecasted storm of the century was going to hit and did some shopping. We have a wedding to go to on Saturday and, in addition to it being 20 degrees outside, I am also 5 months pregnant. What to wear? Guess I won't be slipping into that little black strapless dress (or atleast not without 3 pairs of spanx!) So, I spent some time in J. Jill and found something I thought would work.
  • It really has paid off to wait and do some last minute shopping this year. Not that I had it planned that way. As I mentioned, it's been hard to get everything done. But, I made a trip to Ulta with a 20% coupon that I could USE ON FRAGRANCES! They never let you do that! So, I got my mom a perfume she requested and I bought 2 jars of Eucerin cream for a little project that I am working on. I have bought some fragrance oils and I am going to make my own scented lotions and hand scrubs for a few Christmas gifts. I'll post pictures of the finished product.
  • I also took a trip to Lucy - which is a great little store that sells exercise clothing and activewear. So sad if you don't have one in your area because they are GREAT! And, my mother-in-law is a personal trainer. So, we always buy her clothes from there - it's a situation you just can lose. Get this - with their sales going on, I purchased her 5 shirts- various hoodies, zip-ups and long sleeved t's. Retail cost = $250.00. My cost? ONLY $85.95!!!!!! Well, everything was on sale and then I got an extra 40% off that! Amazing. I just hope she doesn't want to exchange anything because it won't get very far on regular priced stuff. That's the only way to buy, in my opinion.
  • And, last but not least...I'm sooooo excited, and I just can't hide it. "What for?", you ask? I have ordered a Nikon D60 - supposed to be here on Friday or Monday. I just cannot wait. I have never really had a nice camera and, with the little one on the way, I'm going to be getting a lot of use out of this thing.

Have a wonderful weekend!


Friday, December 12, 2008

The Home Goods Jackpot

After reading many other crafty blogs yesterday, I got the decorating itch. Which was good considering I hadn't put hardly any holiday decorations out. So, I decided to head over to Home Goods. I had been there a couple of weeks ago, but you really have to be "in the mood" to shop to get anything accomplished over there. I usually have to be on a mission. Boy, did I hit the Home Goods jackpot! I found a lot of great stuff - but I have to admit, I walked around aimlessly for about 30 minutes.

Now, my entryway is holiday ready. I had an old window that I picked up a few years ago at a antique shop and the dresser was originally white, found at a garage sale for $20. I painted it black this summer - it still needs hardware -

Christmastime Is Here!

Do you ever feel like just as you get all your holiday decorations out, it's time to put them back again? That's how I feel this year. With the new Christmas tree, we got a delayed start to things and I just finished putting my decor out last night.

The Alcove In the Foyer:

The Cozy Great Room Fireplace:
The Sofa Table in the Great Room:

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree!

Finally! This year, we got a new tree. Well, not brand new, but new to us. When we got married, almost 7 years ago, my husband and I went out and picked out a tree that was economical (code for SMALL) and had colored lights. This was when we were first married and I was a little more easily persuaded. I never have been a huge fan of colored lights. They are fine - other people decorate with them and they look nice. I just don't like them on MY tree. For the last 2 or 3 years, I have been begging for a new tree. And, Carson says, "Let's wait until after Christmas. They'll go on sale. We'll get a great deal." And, I agree. The problem is, we NEVER go out and get that new tree.

So, I lived with this dinky little colored light tree for the last 6 Christmases. Now, can I also add that the little tree has been through 3 moves and 1 basement finishing. So, when we brought it up this year, it was sadder looking than usual. The majority of the lights didn't work and it was just plain pathetic. I could have sworn it was drug behind a vehicle for a couple of miles and then plopped into our living room. Yuck!

As luck would have it, I was talking to my cousin about this and she said they were actually trying to sell a tree on craigslist. But, it wasn't pre-lit. The thing is, that's exactly what I wanted! And, she said it was about 9 feet tall - A perfect fit!

I brought it home and it came in one of those nice Christmas tree bags - fabulous. A sure-fire way to store our new tree and keep it nice. We unzipped the bag and began pulling out branches. It's one of those trees that had color coded branches that you have to put one by one into the frame. No biggie. My grandma had one and I had put that together before. Carson continued to pull branches out of the bag. And pull. And pull. And pull. It was kind of like that scene in Mary Poppins where she has her carpet bag and keeps pulling things out that could never have really fit in there.

Once the bag was empty, we stood amongst the strewn about branches. Time to get to work. I started with the first layer and by about the third layer, I was beginning to see what a monster of a tree this was going to be. Carson made some crack about how this was like the Griswold family Christmas Tree - you know where Chevy Chase cuts the rope from holding the branches down and they all shoot out through the windows.

The next night, I finished putting the tree together and put the white lights on. It was totally worth it and, to make a long story long, I have my tree... It needs some finishing touches.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Homemade Pottery Barn!

Many of you probably have a talented family member out there - I have many, but today I am showcasing the talents of one. May I present Exhibit A - A very desireable and well crafted shelf from Pottery Barn (picture courtesy of PotteryBarn.com).

Now feast your eyes on Exhibit B - An even more desireable and even more well crafted shelf that my Dad made for our back hallway. It even was painted to match our woodwork perfectly. Ah - storage and organization heaven. You can't see the hooks because we have all of our coats hanging, but it is EXACT.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Tour Our Home Continued

Here are a few more pictures from inside our home. I'm leaving for Las Vegas today and will post about that when I get back. It's 37 today in Chicago so I'm looking forward to the nicer weather - even if it is just 65 in Vegas.

Friday, November 7, 2008

What's In Your Pantry?

Here is my pantry. It's another one of my favorite things about how the house was designed. It's so difficult when you are looking at a blueprint and a kitchen layout to think, "Yeah, there's enough cabinet space." or "No, we need more." Thank goodness for this pantry because my cabinets I use basically to store all my dishes, glassware and bakeware. The pantry stores all our food. Behold...

I know you must be thinking that we are alcoholics by the look of our third shelf up (everyone notices this) - but this is a result of having a party over the summer and also of having a bottle of every type of wine but no place to store it. Alas, the wine rack was left out of this kitchen design. The one problem with this is that the shelves are just a tiny bit too low to fit my kitchenaid mixmaster underneath and I am way too afraid to put it up on top (that thing weighs at least 1 ton if not 2!) But, I aggravates me because it has caused a few stubbed toes, and if you've ever kicked a mixmaster, you know you are lucky not to have a broken toe. Anyway - that's where I store my kitchen goodies and loot!
Have a great day!

Thursday, November 6, 2008

This Is Great Lotion!

I have to share a funny story from this morning...I have been traveling for my job quite a bit recently and I cannot stop myself from swiping the little bottles of shampoo, conditioner, shower gel and body lotion. Yes, yes, yes. I know I will get some at the next hotel, but I. just. can't. resist. Anyway - they are all usually in the same bottle shape and they all look the same. So, I grabbed this morning what I thought was lotion and proceeded to rub it on my face (anyone else have a problem with their whitening toothpaste drying out the skin around their mouth?) and it wasn't soaking in. I'm talking about 5 minutes later. I picked up the bottle - ah ha! the bottle said "CONDITIONER" - Duh! I guess it could have been worse - I could have had the lotion bottle in the shower as conditioner. Oh - it's one of those days.

Tour My Kitchen!

Here is a look at my kitchen. I have to say, it's one of my favorite things in our whole house. I am not one of those people who have a great big kitchen with fancy appliances and never uses it. I love to cook and spend time here. We have been in our house only a year and a half and I have continued to decorate.

Everything was designed by us - the cabinets are have a dull rub on them which means they don't have a shiny wood finish. The are also glazed. The countertops are Hanstone - which is kind of like Cambria, if you are familar with that. The light cabinets have a dark top and the dark cabinets have a light top. The wall were painted with Benjamin Moore's Shelburne Buff and then plastered in small areas and then glazed. You can see that I darkened the corners to give it an aged look.

I bought most of the kitchen accessories at Hobby Lobby. And, how could you possibly have a kitchen without a rooster. But, I think three's enough - a lamp, one on the shelf above the cooktop and one on the planter on the black cabinets. And, I didn't catch them all, but I have quite a few Southern Living accessories around. Maybe I'll post that next!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Our little Cricky

Here is my sweet girl. You guessed it, she's the one that this blog is named after. We've had her for about 5 years now and she was a SHELTER dog. Well, she wasn't ever actually at a shelter, but she belonged to a family that didn't have time for her. And she is the best. dog. ever! She loves to get up on your lap and snuggle and especially loves belly rubs. She is a big fan of honey nut cheerios, which is the only people treat that she gets. She also watches tv - no joke. Especially if there is something like Animal Planet - unfortunately, she defends her house against these tv animals - And she despises Flower and the Meerkat Manor family.

As we've seen countless times in our area papers, in these tough economic times, many people are forced to give up their pets. If you are considering adding a furry friend to you family, please go to a area shelter. Cricket (aka Cricky) thanks you with a lick and a wag and so will her other shelter friends.

My Poor Little Urns - Transformed!

Well, I've fixed my urns -atleast for a month until I get the Christmas greens. A couple of days ago, one of my urns was knocked off the paver pedestal by the wind. All my mums were either broken off or dumped out - so here's what I did.

And here are some more pictures of what our house looks like this fall.

This might seem like a weird picture for fall and, you're right, it is. But, the reason that I am posting it is because my geraniums, that I planted in MAY/JUNE are doing great...an it's November. Just another weird result of the crazy 70 degree weather we've had.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Happy first day of summer - i mean NOVEMBER!

ok - so I know i was just complaining about it snowing the other day, but we've had 3 straight days of 70 degree weather in Illinois and it's NOVEMBER!  That's what's so funny about Chicago weather - it's either sweltering or it's 20 below zero - nothing happy in the middle.  Temps in the 70's does not make me want to fix a turkey or whip up a pumpkin pie.  It makes me wonder, "Which way is the pool?"

Anywho - it's election day.  Did you get out and vote?  I was actually going to go this morning and try to beat the crowds at 6 am - but the bed wouldn't let me go, I swear.  So, I went after work.  It really is a toss up - Obama?  McCain?  All is know is that whoever gets in there has four years to show us their stuff.  If they can't make good things happen, they're out.  Period.  I have to admit that I believe John McCain to be in ill health and the thought of that taking puppet Palin running the country makes me shiver.  But, I don't know if Obama is too big of a change for this country...I guess we'll see.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Just Another Manic Sunday

There were a number of years that I worked on the weekends - both Saturday and Sunday. But, for the last 6 months or so, I have had the weekend off - which has been great. Here is what typically happens at our house on a Sunday.

The two pups, Cricket and Roscoe, are constantly wanting attention and we lay around all day long and watch football. Ah - fall. Gotta love it.