Friday, December 31, 2010

{goodbye, 2010...}

This year is closing in a lovely way...

Time in the mountains with family... games and movies and giggles... Avett Brothers concert at midnight... a surprise visit from Tanner (who drove three hours to be with me on New Years)... and a relaxing distraction from the bustling world, to reflect on days gone by, and those yet to come...

Thursday, December 30, 2010

{mountain magic}

My family loves games, and though we are spending the beginning of the new year in the heart of the mountains, exploring cute little mountain towns, we are also spending a lot of time in our rustic cabin, playing mountains of games. Here are some moments to share with you. Happy New Year!

An afternoon game of Settlers of Catan...




And an evening game of Killer Bunnies... (even cold temperatures couldn't keep us from playing games on the porch!)




Wednesday, December 29, 2010

{butterflies}

With family in town for the holidays, we've been filling our days with games, movies, trips into town, laughter and more food than my mom's house has ever seen. In just a few short days her small house grew from one person to eleven, and with it the warmth that only family can bring.

Today (after several rounds of Killer Bunnies and Settlers of Catan) we set out to explore the science museum and its wonders, including the beautiful butterfly gardens...



Monday, December 27, 2010

{a season for giving}

I had fun with my presents this year. I had most of them bought and/or created just after Thanksgiving, so I didn't have to battle the retail-craziness that occurs three days before Christmas when everyone realizes, "oh crap, I have to buy presents this year?!"
You'd think they'd learn.

My favorite gifts to give were, of course, ones that I spent a lot of time making myself. I had a special one all ready for Tanner; a drawing that I spent a fair amount of time sketching out, coloring, and framing. The picture itself reflects back to our very first date, when Tanner told me about an image he had been wanting to "realize" for a while. Alas, he had never put the thought onto paper, and instead described it for me, not knowing at the time that he had a fairly artistic girlfriend-to-be, and one with a fairly good memory, as well.

Flash forward to five months later. I dredged up this conversation from my memory and recorded his description as best I could onto paper. I hadn't meant it to come out looking quite as "cartoon-y" as it did, but seeing as it's supposed to resemble a comic book page, perhaps cartoon-y was the right way to go.
At any rate, Tanner loved it. He remembered immediately the conversation we had about the image, and I'm pretty sure his eyes welled up a little before he kissed me.
That right there is worth a thousand store bought gifts.


And framed...


For my parents I got them framed photos of my sister and I, which a good friend of mine had taken for us. Blown up to 8x10s, they looked astoundingly good and I was delighted to have this gift for them.



And, of course, I couldn't send Tanner home without some sort of gift from his family, hence the gift basket I created for them.

Some of my favorite gifts I received:
- Settlers of Catan: Seafarers (the expansion pack to the original game). I'm a big game fanatic, and this one is one of my favorites.
- Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot. This is also a game, and though technically I'm the one who gave it to Tanner, we play it nightly, so it really feels like my gift, too.
- Wind chimes for my soon-to-be awesome porch. (I'm thinking: hammock, hanging chair, porch furniture, wind chimes, garden....)
- Earrings my dad gave my mom on their wedding day
- Great Big Sea CDs!
- The Tudors, Season 4 and 30 Rock, Season 4 on DVD!
- The Sneaky Chef cookbook (more on this later)
- Tickets to see The Lion King Broadway tour. Funny story: Tanner and I both bought these tickets for each other and so ended up with two sets on Christmas! I guess it goes to show you how much we think alike (or we just know each other too well!)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

{i'm dreaming of a white christmas....}

Snow!!
This is the first white Christmas we've had in 40 years, and what a beautiful gift it turned out to be! Tomorrow will be filled with delayed traffic, slushy roads, and bustling customers trying to buy bread, milk, and warm gloves, but for today... today falls the simple, silent sound of magic.



Saturday, December 25, 2010

{merry christmas}

Merry Christmas to all!

I hope your days are bright and full of laughter, family and friends. Here's a few of my favorite Christmas snapshots I've taken of my own family decorating the tree...









Thursday, December 23, 2010

{a-tisket, a-tasket...}

Not knowing what to get Tanner's family for Christmas, I decided against a store-bought attempt and instead made a basket of goodies for them to share. Here's the secrets into its creation:


The edible portion of the basket took up most of the space (I found the basket at AC Moore, by the way), consisting of cookies, pumpkin butter, a jar of "ready to make" chocolate chip cookies, and a loaf of homemade bread (not pictured... we'll get to that). Here are recipes for everything in the basket (except the snickerdoodle recipe, which is here):

{pumpkin butter}

Ingredients: 1 (29 ounce) can pumpkin puree, 3/4 cup apple juice, 2 teaspoons ground ginger, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1 1/2 cups white sugar, 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions: Combine pumpkin, apple juice, spices, and sugar in a large saucepan; stir well. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes or until thickened. Stir frequently. Transfer to sterile containers and chill in the refrigerator until serving.



 
{chocolate chip cookies in a jar}

Ingredients: 1 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 1-1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions: Mix the salt and baking soda in with the flour, then layer the ingredients a quart-size jar in the order listed, with the chocolate chips on top. Use scissors to cut a 9 inch-diameter circle from calico. Place over lid and secure with rubber band. Tie on a raffia or ribbon bow to cover rubber band.

Baking Directions (to include on card):
Ingredients: Contents of the jar, 1 cup unsalted butter or margarine, 1 large egg, 1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Sift dry ingredients through a colander to separate the chocolate chips from other ingredients. Beat butter in a medium bowl until creamy. Beat sifted ingredients into butter until blended. In a small bowl, beat egg with vanilla. Mix beaten egg mixture into butter mixture until blended. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop teaspoonfuls of batter, spaced well apart, onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake 8 minutes or until lightly browned.

I knew his mom likes teapots, so I created a tiny "scrapbook" page with some bits of fun paper I had in my stash at home.
I cut the pink patterned paper to 4x6 and then layered a solid piece of paper on top of it, slightly smaller to leave an edge. I ripped the teapot pieces out of construction paper to give them a jagged look, and then secured them with craft glue. I outlined the whole thing in black gel pen ink and then did the lettering of the name by hand. I put the creation in a 4x6 black frame, and voila! Instant art!

The bread I let rise all day, so when it came out of the oven it was the last thing to be added to the basket. I might share how to make it one of these days (secret family recipe, you see....) but for now, it'll remain a mystery. It is one of my favorite things to bake, however, and easily trumps cookie making any day of the week. There's nothing more cathartic than kneading bread dough by hand, or smelling the wonderful scent of it as it comes out of the oven.... mmmm! A little butter on top and it was practically torture wrapping this loaf up without cutting off a slice for myself!

The finished product:

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

{snickerdoodles}

Christmas is in three days, and today I have a day off work to enjoy some simple moments alone before the hustle and bustle (and wonderfulness) of the holiday season wraps around us.

It is a balmy 50 degrees outside, and compared to the unseasonably cold weather we've been having this December, today's change in climate feels practically tropical. I spent the day being artsy, crafty, and clean-y, with the windows open, Christmas music playing, and best of all: cookie baking.


Here's a snickerdoodle recipe I'm sharing with all of you for your Christmas cookie season!




{snickerdoodles}

Cream: 1 cup soft margarine, 2 cups sugar, 2 eggs
Blend in: 1/4 cup milk, 1 tsp vanilla
Stir in: 3 & 3/4 cup flour, 1/2 tsp baking soda, 1/2 tsp cream of tartar, 1/2 tsp salt


Form dough into small balls and roll in cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place two inches apart on a greased cookie sheet.


Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes. Watch them carefully toward the end -- these cookies can burn very quickly! Take them out when the edges are brown and the middles are still a little gooey. They'll harden as they cool. Enjoy!


Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

{beginnings}

Here goes a new attempt with a new blog... an artsy expression, if you will.

Hopefully it will soon be filled with artwork, galleries, DIY projects, narratives and poetry, photographs, drawings, decorating tips, scrapbooking ideas, greenness, and fun everyday brainstorms.

This is that evolution. Enjoy the journey!

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