Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas Decorating Project 2011

A few weeks ago, I mentioned a new tradition that I wanted to start.  A DIY Christmas decoration for my home! 
I had a few pictures of things I thought would be fun to make.  Well, I still think they would be fun to make, but I did something totally different. :)
I wanted to do something special for Jasmine's first Christmas.  Last year, we bought Ian an ornament for the tree, and I wanted to do an ornament for Jasmine as well.

I decided to make a little handprint Christmas tree ornament.  I totally love how they turned out!
I used a simple salt dough, (recipe below) cut out circles with a regular water glass, and took Jasmine's hand impressions while she was napping. :)

Ian got in on a little bit of the painting, he loved it!  I was pretty impressed with his hand/eye coordination, for a one year old, it was pretty good! :)

He even got to help with the snowflakes! :)

The finished product!  

Salt Dough

1/2 cup salt
1 cup flour
1/2 cup water

  • Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.

  • Mix together, salt, flour, and water until dough is formed.

  • Knead the dough on a floured surface until the mixture is elastic and smooth. If dough is too sticky, sprinkle with flour, continue to do so until stickiness is gone. Do not add too much flour, this will dry out the dough and will cause it to crack before you get a chance to bake it.

  • Roll out the dough to about ¼” thick with a rolling pin that has been dusted with flour.

  • Use cookie cutters to cut out as many shapes as you want.

  • Use a toothpick to make a hole toward the top of the shape. Poke the toothpick into the shape, then holding toothpick straight up and down, make a circular motion as if you were stirring something. Keep circling until the hole is the size you want.

  • Place all shapes onto an ungreased cookie sheet and place into the preheated oven.

  • Bake for 2 hours.

  • Remove from oven and allow to cool completely.
  • Tuesday, December 27, 2011

    Food, Glorious Food!

    We had an Amazing Christmas this year!  There was so much good food, laughter, family times, relaxation, giving, visiting, singing, and in general, enjoying God's blessings! 
    We spent Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and Boxing Day with Stephen's family, and had a total hoot!
    I got to help make a lot of the food over the weekend, which was so much fun for me!  I really love cooking for "big" groups, especially appreciate, hungry ones!  I love really making food look beautiful, as well as tasting good!
    My mother-in-law and I put together this feast for Christmas Eve!   

    Chocolate Fondue!

    Spinach Dip! (A Christmas tradition for me!)

    Deviled Eggs


     Cheese Fondue!

    Yes, good food was enjoyed by all.  I love how a meal like this brings people together in a way that "normal food" doesn't.  There's so much more interaction and fun, it seems!  
    This is one of my favorite types of meals.  I love appetizers and finger foods during the holidays!  It's so much fun planning it out, making sure you have a beautiful variety of each type of food.

    Spinach Dip

    1 cup mayonnaise
    1 cup sour cream
    1 package Knorr vegetable soup mix
    1 (8 oz) package chopped, frozen spinach
    1 (round) loaf sourdough bread

    Mix mayo and sour cream together.  Add the soup mix.  Add the spinach (thawed and drained) and mix thoroughly.
    Cut out the centre of the sourdough loaf and place the dip inside.  Cut the centre of the loaf into bite sized pieces to eat with the dip.
    You can also serve this with crackers, and with vegetables.

    Friday, December 23, 2011

    Our New Home - a Little Peek

    So since I know so many of you have been just *dying* to see what our new place looks like, I decided to satisfy your desire and show you a few snapshots of the place! :)
    Disclaimer: We haven't even been in the place a month yet, so things are definitely not where I want them to be as far as decor etc. goes.....just so you know. :)  

    1. My lovely, huge kitchen. :)  It's actually quite a bit bigger than it looks in the picture.  There's room for a nice sized kitchen table/breakfast nook, which we don't have, leaving a lot of room for playing in the kitchen.  (I mean for Ian to play in the kitchen, obviously! :P) 

    2. Ian's room/nursery/playroom 

     3. Office/sewing room/film equipment storage.  I love this room!  It's so nice to have a place where all the film equipment/electronics can be together, plus, having my sewing machine set up and easily accessible means I'll be using it more!  I'm still working on ideas for how to best organize this room.....

    4. Bathroom #1

     5. Hallway (the open door is to the master bedroom) The closets are awesome!  Storage is something one should never take for granted!

    6. Our front door.  We have the main floor of this house, so we have to go down a flight of stairs to get outside, (or do the laundry).  But it's really not as big a deal as I thought it would be.  I'm so grateful for our beautiful home the way it is! :)

    7. Our beautiful dining room chandelier.  I have to say, whoever picked out the light fixtures here has good taste! :)

    8. Our living room. I know I already posted this, but it makes this post so much more complete.  :)

    Obviously, a few pictures are missing: our dining room, bedroom, ensuite.....but you'll just have to wait on those. :)  My dining room table is currently piled high with scrapbook paper and half finished projects, as well as some completed projects.  I've been having so much fun with all the space! :)  
    More blog posts to come regarding the projects...! 

    Wednesday, December 21, 2011

    My New Favorite Recipe

    I'm not doing a ton of Christmas baking this year.  Which is kind of sad, because I love Christmas baking!  But it's just not practical to fill my kitchen with tons of goodies and sweets when there are only two of us who really eat sugar, and I don't want to totally overload our systems. :P
    However, I did make these cookies the other day, and have completely fallen in love with a new twist on an old family recipe.

    Chocolate dipped shortbread = hello, yumminess! :)

    The original recipe: (stolen, very recently from my sister's blog.)

    Melting Moments Shortbread

    1/2 c cornstarch            1 c. flour
    1/2 c icing sugar           3/4 c butter
    Mix together, form into balls, flatten if desired.  Bake at 350 for 10 minute or until just golden brown.  

    The Twist:
    Melt about 1 1/2 cups of chocolate (I used Bernard Callebaut dark chocolate chunks) along with about 1/3 cup of milk.  Stir until smooth.  Dip cooled shortbread cookies into the chocolate and place on wax paper.  Let cool in the fridge until the chocolate is hardened.  

    Warning: These are very addictive, proceed with caution. :P

    Monday, December 19, 2011

    Growing Roots

    (Our living room, taken from our dining room.)

    I don't know if it's because we're planning to stay here in Kamloops for a few years;
    I don't know if it's because I spent a very happy childhood here in Kamloops;
    I don't know if it's because our home is really nice;
    I don't know if it's because I already have friends here;

    I'm really, really happy here.  I've like every place we've lived in so far, every house, every area, but there's something different about Kamloops.  I'm not even sure what it is.  I think it's the feeling of security and stability that comes with having plans to stay.  Plans can change, as we've experienced a lot of different times, but I feel like here I can really put my roots down, and grow a little! :)

    I feel like things are finally settling down a little bit for us, and we can figure some things out, and set things in place.  I  like moving, I really do.  But I think I'm ready to be done now for a while.  You don't realize how exhausting it is to pack and unpack, and completely set up a new home, routine, daily life, until you do it four times in a row!  

    I've learned a lot about myself through out all of our moves, and that's been fun. :P
    *I like things to be really organized, in every area
    *I'm pretty minimalistic (okay, I already knew this about me, but I think it's gotten better {worse? :P} )
    *I love things to be both useful and beautiful
    *Atmosphere is very important to me
    *I love turning ordinary things (like breakfast, for instance) into something special when we have the time
    *I love DIY projects that enhance either organization, beauty or both
    *I very much prefer quality over quantity
    *I love being in the country
    *I love being in the city. :)
     (I think right now, I prefer city over country, the convenience is awesome! :P)

    I hope you all are having a beautiful "week-before-Christmas"and taking time to enjoy all the little moments that often go unnoticed - but when enjoyed, give your life a beautiful fullness!

    Saturday, December 17, 2011

    Christmas Cards!

    A few cards I put together.....I haven't made cards in forever, it felt so good to be creative in this way again! I tried out a few new (to me) technics that I was pretty happy with!

    Putting my sewing machine to a non-traditional use....

    Using an ink pad for extra texture and a more finished look....

    Sunday, December 11, 2011

    Christmas Decorating

    I thought of a brand new Christmas tradition yesterday that I'm very excited about starting!
    I was looking around, and noticing that we really don't have a lot of Christmas decorations.  Which is kind of a problem, because I love having a lot of beautiful Christmas and winter decorations up. 
    So my solution to this problem was to plan a new Christmas tradition for myself.  Every year, I want to make a new Christmas decoration for my home.  
    I used to think "homemade" meant sub-par, lame, and poor quality.  I'm realizing that just the opposite is true.  Things that are handmade can be so much more beautiful and classy than what you can buy in a store.  Exceptions apply on both ends, of course, but homemade often means better!


    A few years ago, I made this snowman stack with the help of a good friend, and in the company of more good friends.  Unfortunately, that was also the year that my family lost our home in a fire, so I don't have my snowmen anymore.  But ever since then, I've been determined to re-create this adorable stack of snowmen!  Maybe this will be my project this year!

    Saturday, December 10, 2011

    Glimpses of Christmas

    There are so many things I like about this time of year, but one of my favorite things happened tonight as I was sitting on the couch, cuddling my baby girl.  
    I glanced out the window, and to my absolute delight, I saw snow falling in the light of a street lamp almost directly outside my window!  It's amazing how quickly a peaceful feeling follows a sigh like that. I couldn't resist turning off all the lights in the room and just standing by the window, watching the falling snow.  It's one of the most peaceful things in the whole world.  That, and holding a sleeping baby, which I was. :)
    I went out today with my two kidlets and experienced another side of this time of year that wasn't quite as peaceful. :P  Christmas shopping.  At least, that's what everyone else was doing.  I'm doing most of my shopping online this year, and it's so much more enjoyable!  I learned awhile ago that the whole fun of Christmas shopping, the excitement of finding the *perfect* gift, the meandering through shops while sipping a hot drink, the enjoyment of the streets and stores decorated for Christmas, can all be blighted by the enormous pressure that comes by needing to tick off as many items on your gift shopping list in a relatively short period of time, while trying not to get overrun by the other shoppers who have the same objective.  Stress can so quickly creep in and nearly ruin Christmas shopping.
    I can't stand the over-commercialized, quantity over quality mindset that seems to be so prevalent in our culture.  I love bringing things back to simplicity, and quality, and really taking time to enjoy *the moment*.  I don't want to do things for no reason, I want to know why I do things, why my family does things, to live deliberately, and fully.

    Three newly acquired decorations, I thought they were pretty adorable!

    This is the only Christmas tree we have currently.  It's only about a foot and a half tall, but it's so cute, and it's better than nothing! 

    My little Jasmine sleeps with her eyes buttoned up at night, it's so stinkin' cute!  (gold star to everyone who knows where the "buttoned eyes" reference comes from. :P)

    Wednesday, December 7, 2011

    On Moving

    So obviously I haven't been blogging for a while.  But I have an excuse.  A really good one, actually.  We just moved.
    So my life in the past several weeks has consisted of packing boxes, organizing, cleaning, getting rid of stuff, loading trucks (okay, just one truck), driving, unpacking boxes, hanging pictures, Christmas decorating, organizing, oh yeah, and looking after two pretty cute little kids!  So....that is why I haven't had much time for blogging!  However, I'm hoping to change that, as I tell you about our new home, and all the exciting things I'm beginning to tackle again as we get more and more settled!
     Jasmine was awesome the whole time we were moving!  She spent most of her time bundled up against the cold, in her car seat. :)
     Ian is a little obsessed with our new shower. :)  
     It's the little things in life...I really love our door handles! :P
    A new decorating idea I stole from Pinterest. :) 
    Stephen's family does a St. Nicholas day celebration on December 5, and it was the perfect excuse to go back and spend the night there!  Mom Casson had an amazing feast prepared, this is one of my favorite things about Christmas time - appetizers, finger food, and the fun times that nearly always accompany them!

    We stopped in at Starbucks on the way home for a few minutes to give the kids (okay, it was mostly for me, I admit it!) a break from driving. :)  Jasmine has just started really smiling in the past few weeks, and it's pretty much the most adorable thing ever!
    So that's all for now, I have