Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year!

We're off to Pittsburgh to celebrate the New Year with some of our favorite people!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A Beautiful Mess House Tour

A Beautiful Mess is one of my favorite blogs 
and she is currently doing a bunch of house tour posts.  
I'm loving every bit of it...
Makes me want to redecorate!

I wish there was this much interesting stuff to look at in my house!

Brussels, Stuffing and the 2011 Christmas Menu

My other assigned Christmas dinner dishes.  Both were fantastic!
These roasted brussel sprouts are my go-to favorites and new this year I made this balsamic glaze and offered it on the side for drizzling.

And I made this sourdough mushroom stuffing for the first time ever.  Everyone loved it!

The rest of our Christmas menu included:
beef tenderloin stuffed with roasted red peppers, sauteed spinach and goat cheese
(I eat red meat like twice a year, this is one of those times!)
mashed sweet potatoes
fresh cranberry relish

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Challenge: Master Bedroom Pt 2

Remember when I wanted to spruce up the master bedroom before Thanksgiving?  
Yeeeeah well that didn't happen.  
I took baby steps, but was crazy busy with other life happenings.

Well, while some families spend the day after Christmas relaxing and hanging out, 
we spent it busting a move towards the master bedroom goals!

Rugs were customized, walls were painted, bedding was purchased 
and many a thing was spray painted.  
A little sewing project, a wall stencil and one more painting project and I'll be ready to share!

Need a color teaser?
daffodil, charcoal, slate, guava, polished silver & white.
(mixed in with lots of natural woods and metallics)

I'm going to say it will be done by MLK day... Presidents day at the latest.
Fingers crossed!

Christmas Dessert

I was assigned 3 things for Christmas dinner.  
Roasted brussel sprouts with balsamic glaze, sourdough mushroom stuffing 
and any dessert I wanted to make.  
Well, I kind of dropped the dessert ball and found myself Christmas Eve eve at Sam's Club talking myself into whatever the bakery could sell me.  
Best decision ever.

I bought the Triple Chocolate Bundt Cake and decided to make a 
fancy bitter-orange whipped cream.

1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons powdered sugar 
1 orange, zested
1/8 teaspoon Agnostura bitters
1/4 teaspoon orange extract

Beat cream until soft peaks form.  Add sugar and beat to firm whipped cream peaks.  
Add remaining flavors.  Beat to combine.  Chill until served.

Pretend you made the cake by putting it on a cute cake plate.  Slice the bundt and serve each slice with a huge dollop of whipped cream.
Next time I'm going to garnish the slices with candied orange peel.

Christmas in a Nutshell

It was merry.  It was bright.  It was festive!
We did a good old run-around-see-everyone Christmas of yore.  
It's been a few years since we scheduled so much into 2 days, but it was a jolly good time.

Christmas Eve:
Brunch with the Shields crew: presents, laughter, stockings (!) and puppy cousins
Late afternoon/dinner with my second family in Tyrone: a festively dressed BABY, more presents, Asti, B&B surprises and fire truck Santa!

Late night party time with our good friends:  Annual Christmas puzzles, yummy late night munchies, personalized wine, lots of hugs and warm fuzzies.

Christmas Day:
Early morning cooking, cooking, cooking.  
My family at my house, monkey bread, more presents (we were spoiled this year) 
and more champagne.
Christmas movie and chill out time with the little sister and bro.
Pack the car scramble and rush over to Grammy's house for more cute-shoe wearing baby time, the most delicious dinner of all time, even more presents, a little more champagne, the best dessert I have ever "made" and a Christmas surprise of childhood ornament divvying.

Could not have been a better Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas!

See ya after the merry-making...  Cheers!

Ginger Ale

This looks aaaaaamazing.

directions & an awesome blog (here)

Christmas Sugar Cookies

I only made a dozen, but it doesn't feel like Christmas till some cookies are decorated.

We actually don't really like rolled sugar cookies as much as 
other drop cookies with more 'goodies' in the mix.
But decorating them is the fun part, so sugar cookies were made!

I follow Bake at 350's recipes for roll out sugar cookies and royal icing to the letter. 
(Now this lady knows how to decorate some serious cookies!)

They turned out pretty darn cute.

Polar Bear Party Mix

I told Eric to come up with a name for this that implied it was Christmas-y & peppermint-y....
Other names considered:
Elf Munchies (are they stoned?)
Penguin Crunch (ooook)
Peppermint Pretzels (well, that's to the point)
Polar Bear Party Mix it is!!

Mini pretzels drizzled with dark chocolate, sprinkled with crushed candy canes & crushed mint Oreos, drizzled with milk chocolate and sprinkled with mint M&Ms.
Sound gross? Ha, actually it kind of is ... but in that really good holiday way.
It's totally over the top, but that salty/sweet goodness is addicting.

Also, after I snapped this picture I added Christmas jimmies.
Over. The. Top.

For the Rest of Us

Aluminum poles, airing of grievances and feats of strength ... a Festivus miracle

Mad Elf

Eric, me & 2 Mad Elf beers = a very merry Christmas Eve eve

Peanut Brittle

My sister and I looove homemade gifts.
We love to give 'em and we love to get 'em.

We got together this morning and made 2 huge batches of peanut brittle.

We followed this recipe and it is sooo awesome!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

How to Drink Wine

Cute post on 'How to Drink Wine' on CUP OF JO


Every January I purchase all of my wrapping goodies for the following Christmas at 80% off.  
I promptly forget what I purchased and have a big old surprise when 
I unpack the Christmas gear the following year.

This year I did neutrals with lots of sparkle.
It turned out great!
Brown packing paper, a neutral tone-on-tone print with hints of sparkles, and a neutral background paper with bright pops of 'Joy'.

Super sparkly limey-green ribbon, stripped sparkly red ribbon and natural twine.

Whimsy gift tags in fun colors and sparkly Joy ornaments to tie on packages.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas for the Woo

It's going to be a big Christmas morning around here for Elwood.
His stocking is stuffed and his presents are wrapped.
Eric and I will attempt to help him rip into each gift like morons, ooo-ing and ahh-ing while he looks at us like "you guys are nuts".  But hey, he's the little man around here and it's what we do.

He will be our little Christmas elf in a toasty-warm new fleece hoodie

A toy Holiday Dinner Plate with turkey, a baked potato, corn, asparagus
and a parker house roll all served up on a Frisbee
(available at Target)

Not to be outdone by the toy 'dinner' he'll have a real Christmas dinner of Steak Florentine.
(Also, this is one of the few brands of 'wet' dog food that doesn't totally gross me out.  Win win.)

And finally a bag of Fruitables Dog Treats.  
He is a pumpkin fanatic, thought we'd try these for a new treat.

Everyone always asks Eric and I what we're getting each other for Christmas...
and the answer is nothing!
We decided long ago to not exchange Christmas presents.  We're always buying/making things we like for the house, for ourselves and for each other... 
the element of unwrapping an item under the tree doesn't add much to the day for us.  
We celebrate Christmas day with lots of love, friends, family and fun (and champagne!) 
and that is more that enough to keep us happy :)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Ready, Set, Christmas

This was a HUGE weekend filled with:
shopping, working, pizza, shopping, baking, wrapping, peppermint mocha, shopping, wrapping, Hanukkah cookies, crafting, menu planning, shopping and a pirate party.

Thrilled to report that we are

Bring on the Christmas fun!

Knit Gift Tags

A cute free download from eat drink chic
Reminds me of my sister who is a knitting machine this time of year!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Chewy Chocolate Gingerbread Cookies

These are the most amazing Christmas cookies ever... 
I've made them 3 years in a row and they are on the agenda for this weekend!

Recipe from Martha and I don't change a thing.

Ribbon Candy in the Kitchen

I Want To Be Her

I Want To Be Her.  Seriously cute blog about chic ladies in NYC.

Subway Girl

I saw her on the F train carrying a small orchid.

Aurora, Creative Director, Fair Folks & a Goat


Girl Crossing Third Avenue and 15th Street

She sloshed through the snow looking cuter than I could have ever tried in this kind of weather.

Elise, Editor-in-Chief, Beso



12 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Home Alone

Well, this made my day...

1. The picture Kevin finds of Buzz's girlfriend was actually a picture of a boy made up to look like a girl because the director thought it would be too cruel to make fun of a girl like that.

see all 12 (here)

Dinner, tout suite!

Forget Rachel Ray and 30 minutes, I am the master of the 10 minute dinner... 
We seriously lack time around here!
Mini gnocchi, sauteed kale in garlic and spicy chicken sausage.  Dinner!

New Year, New Calendar

Love this...

Merry Christmas from Elwood

(photo, again, by my talented little brother)

For Eric