Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

Wishing you and your family blessings and joy in 2012.


Friday, December 23, 2011


Holiday Greetings!

I've been enjoying time in California with my family and friends.  I've been quite busy this week finishing my shopping and a last minute craft, wrapping presents and holiday baking.  Today I baked some of my favorites, M&M Cookies.  I've loved these cookies since I was a child, and I make them every year during the holidays because they are so easy, but very festive.  They are basically glorified chocolate chip cookies.  The real treat for me was being able to bake them in my Mom's beautiful new kitchen!

M&M Party Cookies
1 cup shortening
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup plain M&M's (3/4 lb)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Blend shortening, brown, and granulated sugars in a large bowl.
Beat in vanilla and eggs.
Sift remaining dry ingredients together and add to the sugar mixture, blending well.
Stir in M&M candies.
Drop from teaspoon on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 10 minutes or until golden brown.

I never measure the M&M's.  I just buy a regular sized bag and pour them all in.

I also use parchment paper on the cookie sheets which helps to make clean up so easy!

The shortening makes these cookies both crisp and chewy at the same time.  Yum!

Be sure to share your cookies with family and friends, as they are very addictive!  Santa might appreciate a cookie or two as well.

Hm...would one of these before bed inspire visions of M&M Cookies dancing in my head?


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

O Tannenbaum...

Holiday Greetings!

Today is a wonderful day.  There are just eleven days until Christmas; we are expecting highs in the low 40s; and at 3:00 I will be done with finals!
*Shameless update - I got an A in anatomy - Merry Christmas to me!*

I am so excited to showcase my Christmas tree for you.  I have had my tree up since the Sunday after Thanksgiving and have been enjoying the glow of the lights and Christmas memories all month long.

The best part of decorating my tree is that it is like looking through a scrapbook.  I have amassed quite a collection of ornaments through the years.

Many are from my childhood.

Many are from my travels.

And of course, there is my collection of Wallace Candy Canes (thanks Mom!).

I decided to highlight some of my favorites, new and old.  

I love this dollhouse.
I don't even remember how long I've had it, but it always gets a prime location.
The best part is that it reminds me of the pink dollhouse that my Dad made for me.

My brother gave me the RV from National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation.
(He knows it's my favorite Christmas movie!)

My friend brought me this ornament of George Frederick Handel, from London.
(She knows he's my favorite composer!)

Such a cute little ballerina.

A handblown glass choral singer!

I can't put up my tree without hanging a picture of my sweet Harley.
I miss him a lot.

Le Tour Eiffel, mais oui!

Sleeping Beauty's Castle at Disneyland, all decked out for the holidays!
This one harkens back to my days as a Disneyland Cast Member.

A Venetian glass Santa, imported from Venice, by me!

My friend's Mom made me this cute mouse in a mitten.

I had a friend bring back this ornament from London,
commemorating the marriage of William & Kate.

I bought this wooden carving of the Globe Theatre when I was in London with my Mom.

I love to fill in small spaces with these sparkly snowflake ornaments.
I bought them at the cutest shop in Chesterfield, MO, with my Mom.

Glittery words, like peace, joy, noel, ho ho ho and merry & bright also adorn my tree.

And don't forget the hidden pickle!
There is a German legend of hanging a pickle ornament on the tree.
I'd like to say that I hang a pickle in homage to the part of my heritage that is German.
But I just bought it this year at Crate & Barrel!

It was difficult to choose just a few ornaments to share.  And as you can see, even with a narrowed down list, it's still pretty long!

I don't have any presents under the tree, yet.  Just a couple of pretty boxes.

O Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum, wie treu sint deine Bl├Ątter.

O Christmas Tree, O Christmas Tree, how lovely are thy branches.



Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Stockings

I'll be spending Christmas with my family in California.  It's always so nice to be home and close to my family.  This Christmas will be extra special with the addition of my sweet little nephew.

My Mom always has stockings for each family member, so I decided that it would be fun to make a special one for little M.  As I was thinking about this, I realized that my poor sister-in-law never got a nice stocking, just one of the generic red & white ones from the grocery store.  I certainly couldn't make a stocking for my nephew and leave out his mommy!  So, I made two new stockings for my parents to add to their fireplace this year.

I searched on Pinterest for stocking patterns, and I came up with a winner with this one.

The tutorial given on Fabricworm is excellent.  It's very clear and easy to follow.  The most difficult part for me was choosing the fabrics!

I chose these darling penguins on a green background for my nephew.  They sure are cute and I hope that he likes them!

I also bought some faux fur for the cuff.  It looks great on the stocking, but it was very messy and not the easiest material to work with.  I don't know that I would use it for another sewing project again.

I chose a red fabric with white dots to line the stocking.  It looks much more vibrant in person.

For my SIL, I found this really pretty Christmas candy print.  I think it's really whimsical, without being too childish.  

For the cuff of this stocking, I went with a softer and more delicate fabric.  This fabric is velvety soft and has pretty little dots.  Ironically, it is the same type of fabric on my nephew's changing table (I didn't know this when I bought it)!  

I love the light green and white dotted lining fabric.  It complements with the green accents on the candy pattern.

These stockings were relatively simple to make.  In fact, I completed this project in just a couple of hours.

I snapped these pictures when I was home for Thanksgiving.  Unfortunately, the rest of the Christmas stockings were still up in the attic, so I wasn't able to get a picture of the entire fireplace filled with family stockings.  But I think that these two will fit in nicely and be the perfect place for Santa to leave some goodies.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

By the Chimney with Care...

Greetings Blog Friends!

I love decorating for Christmas.  I'm still working on different elements both inside and outside of my house.  For example, I had the brilliant idea yesterday of putting up my outdoor lights in sub-freezing temperatures.  It took me a while to thaw out, and the sad part is that even though I checked them beforehand, some of the lights aren't working.  My mantel, however, has been done for days, and I just love it.

Because of the TV niche above my fireplace, I must keep my mantel decor low profile.  My lighted garland was the perfect starting point.  And if you're wondering, that's the menu for "Love Actually" on my TV.  It's one of my favorite movies, especially at Christmas time, and it was a real challenge to eject the disc hit the books instead!  

The garland actually looked really pretty all by itself, but I decided to add a few accents anyway.  I love these little votive holders that look like antique mercury glass.  And for safety, I have battery operated tea lights inside, just in case I forget to put them out before bed time.  

I found these little tree ornaments at Crate & Barrel.  They add a little extra sparkle and whimsy.

The silver stocking holders finish off the top of the mantel.  "Joy" and "Wish" are such nice holiday sentiments.

I made the small red stocking several years ago.  It actually turned out a bit smaller than I expected, but I love it even more because it is petite.  

The snowflake stocking matches my tree skirt.  I like the classic look of red and white.  

I like to accent my stockings with an ornament.

Finally, I hung some petite silver ornaments underneath the mantel.  I love that they have a vintage look and add a little sparkle in an unexpected place.

My Christmas mantel gives a warm feeling of coziness to my living room.  It's the perfect focal point for the room, and true to the stocking holder, provides me with a true sense of joy, knowing that I will be spending Christmas with my family.

And, yes, I changed it up a bit for these pictures with the menu for "White Christmas."  This is a true classic and very appropriate with all of the snow that is currently on the ground!