Friday, November 30, 2012

Winter Woolens Advent Calendar

winter woolens advent calendar

My kids have been asking for a week now when we can get out the advent calendar. They love looking inside the little socks and mittens first thing in the morning to find a Christmas treat, and to see what fun, seasonal activity we'll be doing that day, whether it's going to get hot chocolate or watching Rudolph. I made our little advent calendar a few years ago and still love to look at it. It is an easy project that only takes a trip to the store and a few quiet minutes of crafting, so if you don't have an advent calendar yet, there's still time to whip up a cute one before tomorrow!

For the full tutorial, click HERE.

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Here's a quick round-up of some of my favorite DIY advent calendars from around the web:

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1. DIY lattice advent calendar from The Proper Pinwheel
2. Giant advent calendar DIY by Chiara Alberetti Milott for Oh Happy Day
3. DIY advent calendar from the marion house book
4. Ornament advent calendar from The White Company (It was almost impossible to find an original source for this photo, which is all over pinterest. I couldn't find it on The White Company's website, so it might be from a past year.)
5. Mini tree advent calendar from Oh Happy Day


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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Maple & Brown Sugar Shortbread

maple-brown-sugar-shortbreadWhen I was little, I really, really loved oatmeal--I still do, actually--and I was especially partial to Quaker Instant Oatmeal. My favorite flavor was Maple and Brown Sugar. There is just something about that combination that is so delicious; the warm, caramel tones of brown sugar and the deep, heady sweetness of maple are a match made in heaven! Combined with the salty, buttery goodness of a crisp shortbread, they send these delicious little cookies into flavor overdrive!

For the complete Maple & Brown Sugar Shortbread recipe, visit Ciera Design, and see what beautiful font inspired these tasty treats (think flannel and pine trees)!
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Monday, November 26, 2012

Pinterest Cookies

Last month, I became a guest pinner for Alt Design Summit on Pinterest. I'm in charge of the Craving Cookies board, and with the holidays in full swing, the timing couldn't be more perfect! I've had a lot of fun scouring the internet for mouth-watering cookie recipes, and can't wait to see which ones make it onto this year's Christmas cookie plates! Make sure to follow the Craving Cookies Pinterest board so you can be inspired to make delicious cookies all season long!

pinterest-cookies-collage

1) Peppermint Brownie Cookies from Cooking Classy
2) Hot Cocoa Cookies from Pip & Ebby
3) Chocolate Salted Caramel Thumbprints from The Busty Baker
4) York Peppermint Patty Fudge Cookies from Sally's Baking Addiction
5) Cranberry Bliss Bars from Averie Cooks
6) Carrot Applesauce Cookies from Cooking Classy
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Monday, November 19, 2012

Pie Crust Cookies

pie-crust-cookies

My youngest sister, Anna, gets to contribute one thing and one thing only to Thanksgiving dinner: Pie Crust Cookies. You'd think cookies made from pie crust sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar would be pretty average, but you'd be wrong: pie crust cookies are really, really tasty. Especially if you start with good pie crust. They disappear very quickly and never make it to the dessert table. They usually don't even make it past dinner preparations; if you don't hang around the kitchen waiting for them, you're likely to miss them altogether!

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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Holiday Cards from Minted

Two years ago, we sent out the most beautiful holiday cards ever. I still have a few, and I get them out every now and then just to admire them! The design was clean and beautiful, the paper was thick and luxurious--even the packaging the cards were shipped to us in was lovely! And they came from one of my favorite online printing sites, Minted! Minted has a huge selection of beautiful holiday cards that range from spare and modern to sweet and colorful. Here are just a few of the gorgeous cards I've spotted in their selection this year:


minted collage

And, just in case you can't get enough Minted at Christmas, they also have an amazing selection of art prints, birth announcements + cards for every occasion, stationery (including beautiful business cards!), and now party decor!!

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I've teamed up with Minted to review their Holiday card designs, and am receiving compensation in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own.
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Friday, November 16, 2012

Thanksgiving, Fast & Fresh: Chocolate Chess Pie

chocolate-chess-pie

Most of my family lives on the west coast, but my little sister and her family are in North Carolina for a few years while her husband gets his PhD. Her adventures on the east coast have introduced our whole family to lots of fun things, the best of which is Chocolate Chess Pie from a very famous Raleigh eatery, Angus Barn. This pie is life-changing, folks. It is so easy to make--the filling requires only 6 ingredients!--and takes literally minutes to to put together. Seriously, only about 3 minutes! It has a thick, fudgy consistency and rich chocolate flavor. It kind of tastes like hot fudge sauce pie, or not-quite-baked brownie batter pie! It is a new family favorite for us, and I guarantee that if you make it this Thanksgiving, it'll be an instant classic in your family too!

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Turkey Cookies

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My family has been making these cute little Turkey Cookies for a couple of decades now, ever since one of us got one from a friend at school or saw them at a class Thanksgiving party when we were kids. They are so easy to make and look so cute! And best of all, they can keep the kiddos busy while the grown-ups finish their Thanksgiving dinner preparations! For a list of materials and steps, visit my post on Celebrations At Home.
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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

In My Kitchen with Amber Rohrer

in-my-kitchen-show-pony

"In my kitchen, coffee is king, cupcakes are acceptable breakfast food, and there is never a shortage of homemade bread. I love to collect unique food items; black truffle salt, black lava sea salt, blood orange olive oil. There is always dry pasta, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, butter, and lots of cheese on hand. In my kitchen there is room for everyone, even if that means we are standing hip-to-hip, and everyone contributes to a meal."

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Amber is a life long food lover, self taught cook, and is a self proclaimed mad crafter. She runs a personal + craft blog over at Show Pony, where she shares her life and her craftiness. Amber lives in Tampa, FL with her Husband, Jason, and their 5 dogs (Mauii, Arabella, Duke, Moto GP, and Valentine) + 1 cat (Tottenham Hotspur).

Amber and I kept signing up for the same Alt Summit online blogging workshops a few years ago, and have been friends ever since! She is such an encouraging and supportive friend! xoxo 
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Monday, November 12, 2012

Thanksgiving, Fast & Fresh: Roasted Garlicky Green Beans

roasted-garlicky-green-beans

Alright folks. This is probably the easiest recipe ever, and the only way I make green beans anymore! I've never been a big fan of the traditional Thanksgiving green beans made with cream of mushroom soup and crispy onions, but I love green beans in general and think they add some much-needed color to most Thanksgiving spreads. Since these green beans are roasted in the oven with just a little olive oil and some seasoning, they keep their pleasing crunch, their beautiful green color, and their garden-fresh flavor!

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Thanksgiving, Fast & Fresh: Hazelnut Carrots

hazelnut-carrots

My mother-in-law started making these carrots last year around Christmas, and I think they are just divine! The honey and apple juice heighten the natural sweetness of the carrots, and the nutmeg and hazelnuts make them very fancy without making them fussy. Plain, steamed carrots are good; carrots sauteed with butter, honey, apple juice, spices, and hazelnuts are great!

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

November Favorites {Give-Away}, Fall Feathers edition

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I decided to do a feather theme for the November Favorites post quite a while ago, and it has been so hard to narrow down the items to feature! Seriously, about every other day I spot another amazing piece of artwork, jewelry, DIY, or houseware featuring feathers! Here are just a few of the Fall Feathers that made it into the top:

1. Favorite feathery tote bag to hang from your arm: Feathers Canvas Tote Bag from Courtney Oquist
Huntington Beach-based artist Courtney has so much feathery goodness in her shop--I had a hard time choosing my favorite! One can never have too many amazing tote bags, right?! I love the bright, happy colors on this one, and wouldn't mind hauling my groceries or library books around in it. {photo from Courtney Oquist on Etsy}

2. Favorite feather print to hang on the wall, part I: Feathers 2 by Ana Victoria Calderon
I pinned this sweet print from Mexico City artist Ana Victoria Calderon a few months ago and think it is just gorgeous! I want to buy it and frame it and hang it in my house. Something about it, perhaps the polka dots on the feathers, seems magical. {photo from Ana Victoria Calderon on Etsy}

3. Favorite gilded feathers to hang from your ceiling: DIY Painted Feathers Mobile from Needle & Nest Design
Someone I follow on Pinterest pinned this breath-taking, hand-painted feather mobile a few weeks ago, and I think I gasped when I saw it. It is just stunning! And so simple! The touches of gold really make the whole thing sing, don't they?! {photo from Needle & Nest Design}

4. Favorite sparkley feathers to hang from your ears: Gold Dust Earrings from Love Sexton
I featured Love Sexton's neon feather earrings in my March Favorites post over 6 months ago, and since then, Tokara has created even more awesome accessories, like these stunning glitter-dusted black faux-leather feather earrings. I have a pair to give away to you sitting on my desk right now, and I'm so, so sad I can't keep them! {photo from Love Sexton on Etsy}

5. Favorite feather-wrapped packaging: polka-dotted feathers and black twine, spotted on In Haus Press
I love the bold, nature-inspired combination of white and kraft papers, black twine, and gorgeous black and white-spotted guinea feathers. So unfussy, yet so striking! Makes me wish we gave presents for Thanksgiving! PS--In Haus Press makes some really cute letterpressed Thanksgiving place cards featuring feathers too, in case you were wondering! {photo from In Haus Press on Etsy}

6. Favorite feather-printed gift tags to hang from presents: Gift Tags from Satchel & Sage
Satchel & Sage is another shop on Etsy loaded with beautiful feathery things! I first pinned a lovely, multicolored feather print of theirs, then discovered more prints, pillows, and even these cute gift tags in their shop! {photo from Satchel & Sage on Etsy}

7. Favorite feather print to hang on the wall, part II: Blue Feather from Children Inspire Design
I've been a fan of Children Inspire Design for a few years now. I have bought lots of their prints (the classic ABC print, the entire set of luchador prints, and a couple of the matryoshka prints.) I love not only their artwork, but also their  mission to help children in poverty all over the world. Art with a cause! These new feather prints come in shades of pink or blue, and are a little less whimsical than most of their artwork, which means they'd be at home in even the chicest living room! {photo from Children Inspire Design}

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The give-away is now closed and the winner has been contacted by email. Thanks to everyone who entered!

You guys are very, very lucky this month! The winner of the November give-away will receive not 1, not 2, but 3 of the gorgeous items shown above! If you win, you'll get a Feather Canvas Tote Bag from Courtney Oquist, an 8x11 Feathers 2 print from Ana Victoria Calderon, and a pair of Gold Dust Earrings from Tokara of Love Sexton! All three prizes this month were generously donated by the shop owners; many, many thanks to them!

To enter to win this fab Fall Feathers prize pack, worth over $50(!!!), leave a comment on this post! Be sure to include your email address in the comment if it isn't already linked to your profile. I say this every month, but it needs to be repeated: if I can't figure out how to contact you when you win, I'll choose another winner. The give-away will be open until Sunday, November 11th at midnight. I'll choose a winner randomly using random.org and contact them Monday morning. The winner has until Friday, November 16th to contact me with their address; after that, I'll choose another winner. May the odds be ever in your favor folks!

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Monday, November 5, 2012

Thanksgiving, Fast & Fresh: Apple-Pecan Cornbread Dressing

apple-pecan-cornbread-dressing

I love cooking and baking, and I love eating good food, so it makes sense that I love Thanksgiving! Like most families, we usually get together with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins for a huge feast, and both sides of the family have traditional Thanksgiving dishes that we make year after year. The only downside I can think of to Thanksgiving is that it usually means spending a long, stressful day in the kitchen slaving over a hot stove, followed by 10 minutes of eating, then hours and hours back in the kitchen cleaning up! The recipes I'll be sharing for the next two weeks as part of the Thanksgiving, Fast & Fresh series are super quick and easy to make, don't get a million dishes dirty, and keep the flavors fresh and satisfying!

First up is my mother-in-law's cornbread dressing, which she makes all year, and which I love! It is great on Turkey Day, but goes equally well with a weeknight roasted chicken or stewed pork chops. The cornbread makes it slightly sweet, the apples give it a little tanginess, the pecans are for crunch, and the onions and seasoning make it deliciously savory, like good dressing should be. In fact, I just pulled a pan out of the oven and am going to grab a fork and dig in!

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Friday, November 2, 2012

Thanksgiving, Fast & Fresh

thanksgiving-fast-and-fresh

Now that Halloween is over, let's focus for a few weeks on Thanksgiving! I know most of the world, and especially the blogosphere, jump straight from Halloween to Christmas, but I think Thanksgiving is a sweet holiday that isn't over-commercialized, but focuses instead on family and gratitude. And food! What self-respecting food blogger doesn't jump at the chance to talk about food?! So, for the next few weeks I've got some great Thanksgiving recipes to share with you. Some are old favorites in need of a make-over, some are new favorites that are sure to become family standards. All of them are easy to make and focus on fresh flavors and fast preparation. I'll see you back here Monday for the first recipe in the Thanksgiving, Fast & Fresh series!

Click HERE to see all of the Thanksgiving, Fast & Fresh recipes that have been posted to-date!
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Thursday, November 1, 2012

Carrot Coconut Scones for Club: Baked

carrot-coconut-scones

I've mentioned several times before that I started this blog almost 4 1/2 years ago so that I could start participating in online baking groups. They've been so much fun to be a part of, have pushed me to make things that are challenging and exotic, and have expanded my cooking and baking repertoire. I have especially loved cooking my way through a few cookbooks, like Baked Explorations by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito. This particular baking group, Club: BAKED, began when a bunch of members of another baking group finished an entire cookbook and needed something new and wonderful to do. I wasn't 100% I wanted to start another cookbook--it is such a commintment!--but in the past 18 months or so that we've been baking from Baked Explorations, I have not once regretted signing up or purchasing this amazing cookbook! The Baked boys are geniuses, and their cookbooks are filled with the most mouth-watering and heavenly treats. I haven't made a recipe from them yet that wasn't over-the-top fantastic!

While every single recipe in this cookbook sounds delicious, there are a few that jumped out at me the first time I read through it. Carrot Coconut Scones with Citrus Glaze have been at the top of my to-bake list forever, and I was shocked no one had chosen them yet. I'm a big breakfast-eater, and while I actually really like cold cereal (like, a lot!), I loooooove any kind of breakfast pastry or baked good. I really had no idea what to expect from these (other than being delicious), and love, love, love the way they turned out! They have lovely orange flecks from the carrot puree (or huge chunks of orange if you are incredibly lazy like me!) and a mellow, citrusy sweetness. I made 8 scones and probably ate half of them myself! In one day. Like I said, I really like breakfast.

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