Archive for the ‘Blog Party’ Category

This week’s theme for the Dare to Blog Party is all about traditions.  Here are just a few of our favorite holiday traditions:

1. Christmas music starting the day after Thanksgiving (My favorite new-to-me song this year is All I Want for Christmas is a Hippopotamus)
2. Movies: Miracle on 34th Street (only in B&W), It’s a Wonderful Life (only in B&W), National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation, The Christmas Story, Elf.
3. Christmas morning at Alex’s Dads.  Stockings. Our super cute nephew. Breakfast.  Pure Fun and Joy.
4. A family dinner with my Dad’s side of the family and my Mom’s side sometime in December. When we can all be there.
5. Bailey’s and Eggnog.
6. Shopping for gifts for my hubby. He’s always my favorite person to buy for.
7. Sending Christmas cards to friends and family. Including a photo from the year and a letter of what we’re up to.
8. Getting the mail everyday and the anticipation of receiving Christmas cards.
9. Trying to add new decorations to the outside of the house every year.
10. Cookies. (I actually had to hide some in the freezer so I wouldn’t see them and eat 2 every time I walked past the kitchen.)

Don’t forget to check out everyone else’s traditions at Newlywoodwards.

Big Thanks to all of Kim’s hard work to host these parties.  I’ve had so much fun and enjoyed finding new blogs to add to my must-read list.


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Some of my favorite Christmas ornaments are the handmade items from my childhood.  So, for this weeks “Dare To” challenge, I wanted to make holiday decor that I could share with friends and family this holiday season. 

I searched the internet up and down until I found a craft that wouldn’t look like something my 5-year old niece made.  Don’t get me wrong, I love my niece, and her kindergarten art skills are great, but, I wanted a sophisticated craft I felt like others would appreciate.  And I found this:

Instructions here

I set up a little assembly line and mass-produced these little Christmas light Rudolphs.

And I ended up with a whole army of them to share.

Best of all, these were inexpensive.  I found lights for 15 cents apiece at my local hardware store.  And spend about 99 cents each on pipe cleaners, ribbon, bells, noses, and eyes.  I hope I have a few left over to add to my own tree. 🙂

Don’t forget to check out everyone else’s DIY decor at Newlywoodward’s:

PS.  I’ll admit, my VERY favorite ornament isn’t homemade, but how can you beat this?


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Tonight, we celebrated our annual family holiday dinner with my dad.  While we don’t normally exchange gifts, this year was a bit unique.  We’ve got a niece on the way (due January 3rd, if she waits that long).  So, we decided to shower the new mommy-and-daddy-to-be.

As my personal gift to the baby, I made a quilt.

I used 13 different fabrics in coordinating pinks, yellows and greens, plus a different fabric for both the border/binding and the back; 15 different fabrics total!

Each square was cut to 3″x3″.  And the overall finished dimensions are about 42″x55″

I quilted on the diagonal through every other square.  I had originally intended to quilt through every square, but I thought that would be too busy.

The backing fabric has cute little words like dance, play, sing, dream, imagine, wish, create, bloom.  It was my inspiration for the whole thing. 

I absolutely love the way this quilt turned out.  For being only my third quilt (and only the second that I machine quilted) I am so proud of myself.  And, the mommy-to-be loved it.  Hopefully my new niece will too! 

Now, don’t forget to head over to Kim‘s and see what everyone else made for this weeks Dare to Give Homemade Gifts party.

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This week, Kim‘s Dare to DIY challenge was to make yummy holiday cookies.
click on the badge to head over to Kim’s site and find links to what the other ladies baked:

I chose to make Chocolate-Hazelnut Thumbprints from my latest issue of Cooking Light.

Don’t be confused.  The cookies are not the healthy treats mentioned on the left side of the cover.

These are delicious!  The cookies have a brownie-like texture and richness while the Nutella gives them a creamy smooth finish. 
Personally, I think the best way to make them is while drinking a Mikes and snacking on holiday Chex Mix. 

A few things I learned:
–  When I added the flour mixture to the egg mixture, my dough didn’t come together.  So, I stopped, scraped the beater blade off really well and when I mixed again, the dough came together right away.
–  I didn’t toast my nuts (I was a little lazy) and think the cookies came out fine.
–  I should have, however, chopped my nuts smaller.  I left them a little bigger to be pretty, but the larger (pretty) pieces fell off the cookies at the end.  Smaller bits stuck better.
–  I baked all of my cookies at once.  10 minuets wasn’t quite long enough though.  They probably cooked 12 minutes total (and could have gone a minute or two longer).
–  My thumbprint almost completely disappeared during baking.  I just put a new thumbprint in when the cookies came out of the oven.
–  A small offset spatula works great for applying the Nutella.

Chocolate-Hazelnut Thumbprints (from Cooking Light – December 2009)

4.5 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
1 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon instant espresso (optional; I left this out)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2/3 cup finely chopped hazelnuts, toasted
1/3 cup hazelnut-chocolate spread (such as Nutella)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, sugar, cocoa, and salt; stir with a whisk.  Place butter in a large bowl, and beat with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes).  Stir egg yolks with a whisk, adding espresso, if desired.  Add the yolk and vanilla to butter; beat well.  Add flour mixture to butter mixture; beat at low speed just until combined.
3. Turn dough out onto a sheet of wax paper; knead 6 times or until smooth and shiny.  Shape dough into 28 (1-inch) balls.  Roll sides of balls in nuts, pressing gently.  Arrange balls 1-inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.  Press thumb into center of each cookie, leaving indentation.  Bake, 1 batch at a time, at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes.  Remove cookies from pans; cool completely on wire racks.  Spoon scant 1/2 teaspoon hazelnut-chocolate spread into center of each cookie.  Yield: 28 cookies (serving size: 1 cookie).

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Dare to… Entertain!

Nevermind the fact that our remodel isn’t quite done, the house is still a mess, the laundry needs to be folded, and I still need some groceries.  Nevermind that I’m not going to do any of this today.  Because, instead, I spent the morning out shopping with the girls, and I plan to spend the evening will the in-laws because my husband’s cousin flew in today for the week. 🙂

We did a decent amount of yard work yesterday (blew and picked up lots of leaves as well as pulled weeds).  We also have trim painted and ready to install, and most importantly, The Turkey was evicted from the freezer this afternoon and has taken up residence in the fridge for the next 3 days and 18 hours (I rounded up and am giving it a full 4 days to defrost). 

I won’t have a full Thanksgiving table set until Thursday (you should see the to do list of all the things I’d like to accomplish before then, I’m sure it’s totally unrealistic).  But, I did finish sewing my Fall linens this weekend and set a quick fall table to participate in part 2 of Kim’s 6 week holiday Dare to DIY Blog Party.  Don’t forget to click over to Kim‘s and see all the other amazing tablescapes her creative blogging friends have shared.

T-Minus 4 days, and counting until Gobble Gobble Time.

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I received an awesome email a few days ago from Kim at Newlywoodwards.  She invited me to take part in her Dare to DIY Blog Party!  My first thought was to say no, because I don’t consider myself the most crafty or creative person (you should see some of the craft talent I read on blogs everyday!).  But I thought that whenever I have a party, the more the merrier, so how could I turn Kim down?  I’m so excited to take part and see what all the other wonderful ladies come up with.

Dare to DIY_Page_2

So, I better get my creative juices rolling (and scour the internet for fun ideas.  For instance, have you checked out Martha Stewart’s Thanksgiving decoration ideas?  They’re so fun!) for the upcoming 6 weeks of the Party.

Feel free to check out the details over on Newlywoodwards and join in yourself if you’d like.

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