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.