Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas Crafting!

Well hopefully you all had a marvelous Christmas this year and it was filled with many joyous memories. 

For Peter and I, we spent Christmas with his family which was SO much fun! Christmas Eve we prepared for a big Christmas dinner complete with a delicious ham, cheesy potatoes, brussel sprouts (which I LOVED), and a great salad, oh and I can't forget the orange rolls and Waldorf salad I was in charge of. That evening was spend finishing up last minute presents (like my father-in-law's gift - which I will post later), crafting, and enjoying singing Christmas carols and reading the Christmas story out of Luke 2. 
For our craft we tied quilts (which I unfortunately didn't get to participate in because I was working on a gift) and making scarfs which was SO fun and really easy! 

They are No-Knit and Martha Stewart gives great directions (although I have my adjustments...) Basically you take 12 lengths of bulky-weight yarn (Martha suggests 1 1/2 times the desired length but I found that the center pieces become shorter faster so I would suggest doing those 2 times the length desired length) Divide those pieces into 4 bunches of three strands each. Tie 2 bunches together in a square knot leaving about 6 inches of fringe at the end - do the same with the remaining two bunches. Pin those knots to a piece of foam board and then continue knotting the strands together starting with the inner two bunches and leaving about a 1 inch space between knots. Trim to even the ends.  - We also added some fun decorative type yarns into our bunches for a really cute result! I will post pictures of our scarfs later... 

There is your tip for the day and hopefully I will be back with more details of our Christmas holiday and New Year's Eve ideas this weekend! 

Happy Holidays! 

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Personal Update...

I have been keeping secrets for a while... I am nearly finished with my pregnancy! I only have 9 weeks left and we know what we are having... 
Our little girl's name will be Ella Zsofi. Ella after Ella Fitzgerald the famous Jazz singer and the middle name, Zsofi is the Hungarian spelling of Sophie - my husband served a mission for our Church to Hungary and one of the families he taught had a little girl named Zsofi. I met her when we went to visit and I love the name Sophie and thought it would be a fun twist on a very common name now-a-days. 

We can't wait for our little girl to be here and are doing what we can to get ready for her every day. I will (hopefully) post pictures of her nursery soon! 

For those who aren't familiar with how weeks are calculated in a pregnancy, 40 weeks is about full-term. So the last picture above at 21 weeks is about half way. I am now 31 weeks and we haven't been as good about taking pictures but my belly is getting LOTS bigger. Everyone still thinks I am tiny for how far a long I am but I figure it is my first baby so my belly hasn't stretched out yet. 

To be completely honest, going through these major changes in my body has been difficult. It is weird to see myself go from a little flat tummy and fairly toned body to this big belly and seeing other parts of my body expand as well. (The other day I put on a dress for church and I looked in the mirror and decided that I was the size of a boat!) 

Everyone keeps telling me how worth it this whole 9 months will be in the end, and I truly believe that will be the case. Peter and I will have our little girl to watch over and protect, love and care for, meet her every need and help her discover her independence and fly on her own. I am also so excited to teach her to love her Savior Jesus Christ. I know that these children that we are blessed with are merely on loan to us (in a sense) from our loving Heavenly Father and that we are in reality their brother or sister in the Lord. 

A lady today at church was telling me how lucky I am that I get to be pregnant during the Christmas season because I am like Mary, the mother of Jesus. Not necessarily riding around on a Donkey (thank goodness) but I am experiencing the privilege of women to carry a child and feel her ever constant movements as she learns to use her body.

What an exciting thing that we as women have the ability to do. I am so glad that I was and am excited to be a mother and pray that I will be able to care for my Ella while still being a loving wife to my eternal companion, Peter. 

Hopefully you are all having an enjoyable Holiday Season. May your homes be filled with Joy as you allow the Savior's love to enter your homes now and always. 

Bloglight: Heather Bailey

I know, I know, it has been quite a while since I last posted a Bloglight! But do I have one for you this month! Some of you may already know of her but I figured for those of you who don't, YOU NEED TO! Heather Bailey lives nearly my dream life: fabric designer, pattern designer, paper craft creator, and stay-at-home mom! She has a husband who does all her photography (which is AMAZING!) and she has the most amazing craft room I could ever wish for! 
She has a few patterns for sale on her site, HeatherBaileyStore.com as well as her fabrics and paper craft patterns. I have found so much inspiration by just looking at her textile designs and I want to incorporate a few of her fabrics into the little one's nursery! I actually got a blanket for one of my showers from my Aunt Tiff that is made with primarily Heather Bailey fabrics and I LOVE LOVE LOVE IT! 

Her blog is full of great ideas and just little insights into the mind of a creative genius! She also will throw on a free pattern or two. 
I am dying over this little nugget - I think the main reason is because I really want to try to stick with natural toys like old fashion wooden toys and fabric toys (ok, honestly this toy is just seriously cute!) 
Well hopefully you enjoy taking a
 look in the colorful wonderland of Heather Bailey! 

*all photos from HeatherBailey.com or HeatherBaileyStore.com. 

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Home for the Holidays

I thought I would share a few pictures of my home all dressed up for the holidays! Peter and I got everything put up before the party so it is nice to have it all done and beautiful looking now! I just love Christmas and have gotten some great ideas from Pottery Barn as well as my cute mom's past decorating (and I guess a few other sources, I just can't remember them all...) 
Here is the cute Hub lounging on the couch. My dad helped me paint those frames above the couch while they were here during Thanksgiving. They stay up year round but I intermingled some wreaths for a bit more festivity! Also notice the cute pillow on the couch (which by the way will soon be covered - it doesn't really fit my color scheme of Black, white, red and turquoise. I am thinking Black and White Ticking!) The pattern for the pillow can be found at Amy Butler's website. I referenced this pattern on my Bloglight about Amy and told you I would show it off once I got it finished. I have a few more that I want to make and they were SO easy once we got the hang of it. (My mom helped me with that project...) I also fitted it with an invisible zipper so we could remove the buttons and change the cover for a different look - currently showing Christmas!
I got this giant frame at a garage sale and just barely got it hung - usually in place of the wreath hangs a black and white picture of a old looking bell tower (purchased at Wal-mart a few years ago...) 
Here is our little tree - cut down on Thanksgiving Day (it is one of our family traditions - Mine and Peter's anyways, my parents switched to a fake tree years ago against all mine and my sister's pleadings).  I currently have a decent collection of ornaments but I am very excited for the after Christmas sales this year where I can go and stock up on more now that I have a better idea of my Christmas decor style. 
Do you LOVE those stockings - those are one of a kind homemade from Momma Karin's workshop! This year she is making a way cute quilt for my sister who will be going to college next year! 

I will have to take a better picture of it but on the book shelves there are some homemade candle sticks that Peter and I made. We took the left over stump of our tree that we had to cut off (so it could fit in our house) and we cut it into varying sizes of which we drilled holes into the tops big enough for taper candles! Pottery Barn has candle sticks very similar but they are wax molded and painted to look like tree stems. I love my free version and if I don't want to put a taper candle then I can just stick a pillar candle on top and cover the hole! So versatile! 

*can you see me and my big belly in the ornaments above???*

Here is another SUPER easy way to dress up a candle. 

I don't know for sure where I got this idea but I just clipped a few sprigs of fresh tree greens and wrapped it a couple of times with red twine and tied it with a knot in the front. I seriously love how simple it turned out! I did this to three candles all with the greenery but you could do it with berries or a few different types of greenery like boxwood, holly, or magnolia leaves. 

Below is a picture of my table centerpiece for now (it will probably change throughout the season but I am pretty pleased with it thus far... 

Again, hopefully you are all having a MARVELOUS Christmas season and don't forget to ask yourself, did you leave room for our Savior Jesus Christ. For a great reminder of the true meaning of Christmas watch this video

Cookie Exchange Party Success!


Here are me and my girls all decked out in their aprons. Don't they all look adorable and so Christmassy! Everyone showed up with all their cookies packaged all nice. We started off the party with some soup and other little appetizers and chatted. Then we went around the room and shared a little about our family's Christmas traditions which was a fun way to get to know one another. Once we had all eaten we headed for the cookies!
Each person took turns explaining their cookie (and some explained their baking woes...) then we tasted them, keeping in mind the prizes: Best Tasting, Best Packaging, and Best Overall.  
Here was one of the cookies, Peanut Butter Bars with Chocolate - oh they were delicious! 
An aray of different packaging! It was so fun to see how different each person put their gifts together. 
Here are my Pretzel Hugs - for the directions, see my Cookie Exchange Party Prep post. 

I also served Roasted Butternut Squash and Garlic Soup which was also a great "make-ahead" dish (even those who didn't think they liked squash - namely my Husband Peter - thought it was pretty darn good). You basically roasted two peeled, and sliced butternut squash along with 20 cloves of garlic until the squash is soft. Meanwhile you sauté two sliced leeks in some olive oil. Once the squash is finished, add the squash to the stock pot you sauteed the leeks in and add 1 - 2 cups of broth. Use your hand blender to puree the soup (add more stock if you need to). Once the soup is pureed, add the remaining broth and simmer adding salt and pepper to taste. Such a simple soup but delicious and even filling! 

I also sauteed cubes of french bread in olive oil and garlic salt to serve along with the soup. (I can't resist homemade croutons!) 

There was another breadstick that I served along with the soup (displayed in a Christmas mug) these were also another make-a-head which I froze and then plopped in the oven a half-hour before my party started. You can find the recipe for the Parmesan Twists here

These were a HUGE hit! Mini Caprese Bites from My Recipes.com. They couldn't have been easier either and they are perfect for a Christmas Party appetizer because they are (in essence) red and white stripped. 

I encourage you all to try this (perhaps next year as we are getting closer to the Christmas Holiday...). It is a GREAT way to get some friends together before the craziness of the holidays gets going and just enjoy the season. 

Whenever planning a party always remember a few tips - 
  • Try to do as much ahead of time as possible! 
  • Don't hesitate to delegate! 
  • When it comes down to the last minute - don't freak out... somethings just won't work out and so you will just have to forgo! (Plus, I can bet no one will notice whatever it is you are missing...) 
HAPPIEST HOLIDAYS!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Christmas Advent Calendar


I have never been one to love advent calendars, in fact whenever I thought of advent calendars the image of the cardboard boxes with some old fashion Christmas scene printed on the front with little windows which opened up to reveal a piece of less than desirable chocolate inside. 
Now if you feel the stress of the holidays and haven't yet allowed yourself to develop your creativity, then the cardboard box ones from the grocery store may be the perfect fit for you but let me help give you a little inspiration and reveal the true potential of advent calendars! 
May I first introduce what started it all - the Sugar Cookie Christmas Tree Advent Calendar. I saw this on My Home Ideas.com and fell in love! I just had to make one for myself. (See bottom of post...) I just loved the homemade feel and putting it in front of a mirror is a perfect way to allow this kind of Christmas decoration to really shine! When I found this picture I failed to save it and so I went on a frantic search through the internet which resulted in the rest of these great Advent calendars~

I  just discovered this idea by doing a little search on google for "Cookie Advent Calendar." Teresa McFayden at {My MiNuTia} brings us the cookie sheet Advent Calendar which I must say is SO creative and unique for the holidays! She even provides us with step by step instructions on how to "bake up" your own cookie sheet advent calendar on her blog.
I love the different numbers and it's vintage feel! What a great idea and pretty cheap too if you follow her advice of getting the cookie sheet at the dollar store! I may have to hold off on this advent calendar for this year while I begin collecting numbers and other fun trinkets like her domino she uses for the number 1! 









photo from Teresa McFayden's blog {My MiNuTia}
While searching I also found this great example of a cookie sheet advent calendar - what creative people out there! This one comes from Jen at Tater Tots and Jello.                                            Photo from Jen's blog Tater Tots and Jello
She made these for a super saturday project! How fun, I want to come! 
  
We can't leave out Martha - Martha Stewart presents us with an adorable alternative to advent calendars with her Baby Sock Advent Calendar!   
Photo from Martha Stewart's website
Let your creativity explode and give this a try - also don't forget, if you make your own version of any of these, leave a link in the comments so we can all see your beautiful work! Here is my version of the Sugar Cookie Christmas Tree Advent Calendar - I just did 12 days and hung them on the garland above my kitchen sink. Everyone at my cookie exchange party LOVED this idea and it was SO easy! 
Check back for details on the Cookie Exchange Party and also a great tip for frosting your Christmas Sugar cookies! 

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!