Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Vintage Style

Hi everyone!  I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  :)  We did!  We celebrated Thanksgiving in our usual, casual style beginning the day with a Turkey Trot.  It was just 8 of us running up and down my road, but a fun 5K and a great way to start the day.  Emma was determined to win (she's a little competitive, don't know where she gets it...) and blew us all away with a time of 34 minutes.  Chris didn't run because he didn't want to was smoking turkeys for lunch so he kept time for us and he didn't believe Em when she came back alone saying she was done.  Homegirl put it on us.

About halfway through I could see Oren was starting to tire out, so I let Em go ahead and did the rest with him.  He had said he didn't want to do the race at all, and when I told him he could walk it with Grammy but he would be doing it he left before the rest of us and got a big headstart!  Come to find out, he was afraid not only his sister would beat him, but everyone would, so after some encouragement from me and some running, some walking and a few stops, he and I finished hand-in-hand and with big smiles and a 2nd place finish!

The rest of the family came in soon after.  It was my Mom's goal to finish a 5K by her birthday (next week!) and she and Dad did great.  My brother is so busy with school he hadn't run in a month and my sister ran some, went back and walked with Mom and Dad some and then waited on her husband who went the extra mile (literally) and ran 5 miles instead of 3.

Seriously--check out Oren's face in both pics he's in--hilarious!!!!

Afterward, we had a big lunch, some napping and some talking and a great day all around.

Since then, we've packed up all the vibrant fall colors around the house and begun to prepare for Christmas! Our trees are up (yep, we get 2 trees each year) and most of the decorations are out.  The kids and I have made some little trees for our Christmas forest and I'm planning more projects.  I try to do something small with them each day to make it special for them.

Ok--now that we're all caught up, I really wanted to tell you about a book I checked out from the library last week.  My small-town library is tiny and not the most current...  So I was surprised to find Vintage Cakes on the New Releases Nonfiction shelf last week.  I'd read a review by Amy Karol not long ago and she raved about the recipes in this book.  So, of course I snatched it up and honestly, I don't want to take it back.  I will definitely get a copy of this to keep.
Vintage Cakes: Timeless Recipes for Cupcakes, Flips, Rolls, Layer, Angel, Bundt, Chiffon, and Icebox Cakes for Today's Sweet Tooth
via Amazon
Written by Julie Richardson, this book is a collection of all sorts of vintage cakes given a modern twist.  There are easy weeknight style cakes, icebox cakes, a section on cupcakes, layer cakes, flips and rolls, etc...

For Thanksgiving, I decided to make the Maple Pecan Chiffon Cake with Brown Butter Icing.  And it was delicious.  I will say it wasn't near as beautiful as Julie's cake, because I have to admit that my icing was less than spectacular looking.  My brown butter began to burn before getting too brown and the icing separated to look like a bechemel sauce or gravy gone wrong before I frosted the cake.  BUT after some time in the fridge, it hardened back and up and was DELICIOUS!!

For this vintage cake picture I broke out one of my vintage saucers from my Great Grandma.  She left a specific one for each grandkid--this one has mums on it since my birthday is in November.  

So, I encourage you to check this book out--maybe put it on your Christmas list.  It's going on mine!

Linked up with Debbie for the last time this month!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A-corny snack for Thanksgiving

See how I did that there...a-corny snack and my snack is little acorns.  I know, I'm incredibly witty...

For such a bad joke, I gave y'all a bad picture of's that for fair?!?

I told Oren's teacher last week that I'd seen a really cute snack online that I thought would be cute for Thanksgiving--little acorns.  We've all seen the Oreo turkeys, the marshmallow pilgrim hats, etc and those are super cute and I've made them in the past.  But I thought these acorn snacks were cute and different.  She agreed, so I went in today to share them with his class.

Before I get ahead of myself, let me just mention that I am totally ripping off the girls from Our Best Bites here as they featured both of these acorns a couple of weeks ago.  So, I'm not going to give you the recipe or tutorial, because Sara did such a great job already.  

This is our assembly line in action

The kids and I made the little acorns last night so they icing would have time to set up and they'd be more solid for snack time.  Oren unwrapped all of the kisses for me (we used dark--yum!) and Emma put all the kisses on the Nutter Butter Bites after I dotted a little icing on there.  Actually-Sara mentions using chocolate frosting or some melted chocolate chips for this step, but I had some black glitter decorating icing in a tube and I used that.  It worked great and I didn't have to buy anything extra or get another bowl dirty.  :)  We did it assembly line, meaning we attached all of the kisses, waited an hour or so and then I came back and added all of the mini chocolate chips with a tiny dot of icing as well.

I think this new lens is helping--I almost look like a food blogger!  ;)

But, I saved the donut hole acorns to make with Oren's class.  I made a few at home to practice and I changed 2 things to Sara's directions--I used Nutella instead of melted chocolate because I knew I'd be at school and that would save me time and headache and I didn't cut an end off to make it flat.  I found this made it harder to spread the Nutella because the donut kept breaking off.  I spread the Nutella and then let the kids choose from a few toppings to make the acorn their own--we had toasted coconut, chopped pecan pieces, chocolate sprinkles and some leftover Halloween sprinkles.  Who am I to curb their creativity with realism??

The kids loved their fall snack and I'm sure their parents loved it too since we ate them about 15 minutes before they headed home for Thanksgiving break--chocolate, sugary donuts and more chocolate--yes!

This is a super easy project to do with kids and makes a great gift or centerpiece idea.  We bagged up a few for the teachers and sent them to school with a fall-inspired paper folded over the top of the bag and tied.  I wish I'd gotten a picture of that, but I figured a picture wasn't worth a tardy slip, you know?

I'm linking these up with Debbie for Tuesday at the Table.  Go see what other great ideas are there for Thanksgiving (if you're American) and fall in general (for everyone else!).

Friday, November 16, 2012

One Random Friday

Hey y'all!  I know everyone has been doing random Thursday posts and linking to Really Random Thursdays, but I just couldn't swing it yesterday.  So--you get a whole bunch of randomness on Friday instead.

1.  I FINALLY joined instagram.  I don't know why I held out so long other than "all the cool kids were doing it."  Then the day after I signed up I saw this post from Deborah at Whipstitch and straight up laughed because it is exactly how I felt.  Really, if you don't already follow Deborah you should.  She was one of the first people I "met" when finding my way into the world of blogging/blogs/fabric-minded people on the internet and I've followed her ever since.   So--I'm Kelliw6 if you want to watch me figure out instagram and post way more about my life than anyone probably cares about but why not since everyone else is doing it...

2.  I am way behind on the plank challenge that I mentioned a few weeks back because I honestly forgot about it altogether.  But I am keeping up with my miles for Pile on the Miles pretty well.  So far in November I've ran/walked 29 miles so far this month already and am doing at least 10 tomorrow.  I have skipped my sprint/speed training for the last 2 weeks because I am lazy and I hate it, so I'm 2 miles behind this week, but  whatever...  I'm still pretty happy with how I'm doing with it.

3.  My sewing machine has been in the shop which is why there's been no sewing going on.  I just got it back Wednesday, but I had planned to have me sewing room/office all cleaned up by the time it came home and I don't have that done yet.  So I am kinda punishing myself by not sewing until it gets done.  Which means it's still in it's little case as I don't trust myself not to sew if it's set up and plugged in and ready.  haha

4.  I've been knitting a little every evening on my sweater.  After doing 10-15 rows and hating it and ripping it all out and restarting 2 more times I have made significant progress (for me, not like in getting close to being done) and knitted enough that I have 2 buttonholes done.  I'm almost ready to start the lace design part which will be incredibly new to me and probably challenging since I only tend to knit at night when I'm tired and trying to watch Castle or NCIS or Duck Dynasty or something else compelling.

found via Ravelry

5.  I changed up a few things on the blog the other night.  I need to make a new header and maybe update my sidebars a little, but it's kinda intimidating, so I'm keeping it lowkey for now.  In other words, I'm not sure what to do, so I'm just going to ignore the problem for now until inspiration or a free redesign from a blog-design guru strikes.

6.  Both kiddos had their Thanksgiving lunch at school yesterday and I came to eat with them.  Oren ended up getting chicken nuggets instead of the dinner.  What?  A bunch of the kids did.  Emma got the whole shebang and ate some of it.  I ate mine.  Boy do I love a good $3.35 cafeteria style Thanksgiving dinner.  Seriously--except for I got a bunch of dark turkey meat...and they forgot to put out butter for my whole wheat roll.  But on a whole, it was my Thanksgiving warmup!  haha

7.  I am mentioning something I'm thankful for each day on facebook this month and my list includes both the big things (the people) and the little things (my compression socks and my comfy bed).  Most nights I have a hard time deciding what to be thankful for because I am so very blessed.  It's hard to just choose one thing.  So...I wanted you to know I'm thankful for each of you as well.  :)

I'll be back soon with sewing content.  I promise...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Donuts are delicious

I mentioned last week that my friend Debbie had evilly coerced inspired me to buy some doughnut pans and give a try at baking some at home.  I've many times popped open a can of biscuits and fried them up as donuts, but I'd never baked any from scratch.

So we did that this week...3 times!  Our first attempt was for the maple cinnamon doughnuts that Debbie had mentioned last week and actually featured today.  The recipe only makes 6, so we made them two days in a row!  I will wholeheartedly agree with Debbie that while they are really tasty, the maple flavor is just not really there.  The second time I doubled the maple and while I could taste and smell it in the batter, it seemed to cook out.

Baked Maple Cinnamon Donuts
Photo via Cooking with My Kid--Ours didn't last long enough to photograph!

I would recommend these, and Emma's teachers raved to her about them (we sent most of the second batch to school to their teachers), but I will say they are good basic doughnuts, but not enough for the maple lover.

This weekend we branched out and made another of Debbie's suggestions--the dark chocolate doughnut with caramel glaze.  This recipe came Lindselicious.  It was basically cake batter cooked into doughnut shapes and then covered with caramel sauce.  I didn't use her recipe for melting caramel bits, but instead used Chris' tried and true easy caramel sauce.  I was doing 2 things at once though and didn't quite cook the sauce long enough, hence it's granular appearance.  Oh well--the taste is divine even if the appearance not so much...

A food photographer I am not--but Chris bought me a new lens for my birthday, so maybe I can improve...??

As I said--this was just cake batter, so it was a little too soft and moist for me in a doughnut, so we left them uncovered for awhile to harden up just a bit.  The taste is good, but the texture wasn't quite there for me.  But it's a great starting off point and I've had to beat the kids off with a stick to keep them away from them.  This recipe made 12 and like 6 muffins, so if the caramel had been prettier, we definitely would have sent these off to school this morning.  Next time...

I'll be linking up with Debbie in what appears to be the month of the doughnut between us at Tuesday at the Table.  Make sure to check out the links to the doughnuts we made here as well as what Debbie's got and the other linkers.  Great food to be found, that's for sure!

Monday, November 12, 2012

And the winner is...

So, last week when I planned the giveaway ending, I totally forgot that Monday (today) was our celebrated Veterans Day and the kids wouldn't be at school.  So, instead of drawing a winner when I got home from dropping them off, I drew a winner with my coffee and breakfast instead.  :)

And the winner of the $25 gift certificate to Westwood Acres is

.....Marci from Marci Girl Designs!  Congratulations and thanks so very much to each and every one of you who took the time to wish me happy birthday.  Y'all really know how to make a girl feel special!

I also want to send a special thanks to all of the brave men and women who have served or are serving in our armed forces.  The fact that you volunteer your service to our country to keep us safe and free is so amazing and we don't say thank you enough.  Whether you served in peace times or war, whether you were/are stationed at home or overseas--THANK YOU!

graphic found here

And to the families of veterans, a big thank you as well!  Sharing your loved one with us while they serve is a huge sacrifice that I cannot even begin to imagine.  Thank you for all that you do to support and love your veteran as well.  :)

We are headed to the nearby Veterans Day parade in a few minutes.  Take the time today to thank a soldier for their service.

I'll be back this afternoon (or tomorrow morning) with some cool stuff to show you...  :)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Finish It Up Friday

**Don't forget about the giveaway!  You've got till Monday morning to enter!  And thanks to all that have wished me happy birthday!!!**

I've got a finish to show y'all!  Remember my do. Good stitches quilt I've been working on?  Well, I finished it last week and just now got around to taking out the last few basting pins and photographing it.  I still have to add the awesome d.Gs labels that Michonne ordered for us, but otherwise this baby is ready to send off to comfort someone.

I plan to take some more artistic photos tomorrow and I will load those on flickr and possibly here, but at least you get to see what it looks like tonight!

Short recap:  In May I asked the lovely girls of our Empower group to make me "Framed Patchwork" blocks.  Then I hemmed and hawed over placement of the blocks and then realized I didn't have enough navy fabric to do the off-center, more modern design I'd finally settled on, so this quilt is a bit more traditional than I originally had in mind.  BUT....I really do love it!

The navy and green really offset the bright patchwork squares and bring a needed "weight" to the quilt.  Since I couldn't add as much navy as I'd wanted to, I not only quilted it diagonally (both ways) in navy, but I bound it in navy too.

On the back I used some fun polka dots that I had in enough yardage to finish the quilt quickly.  The quilting design shows a little better on the back in these pictures. 

I knew I wanted to do minimal quilting on this one because I wanted it to cuddle comfortably without the added weight of all of that quilting.  Since it's not really bed-sized, I didn't want it to stiff to cuddle up on the couch with or to wrap a sweet little one in.

I really considered going back and adding white diagonal lines on either side of the navy ones, but sometimes less is more and sometimes done is better than "still in progress."

So, after a quick label addition and a trip through the wash, this beauty will be sent off to Alternatives for Girls and will hopefully comfort someone emotionally and physically in this coming winter season.

November is actually my month again, so I have sent out my request to our great group and already have 2 blocks in my excited hands.  I'll post soon about which block I picked and show off the pretty ones Michonne sent me.  :)

I hope you have a wonderful weekend coming up!!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Let's Celebrate!!

Today is my birthday!  Yes, Chris and I were born only 8 days apart (and some years...), so it's a special time of year for us.  :)

I have already had such rich birthday blessings showered down on me this morning that I know that my cup truly does runneth over.

So...let's celebrate!!  I want to share my blessings with y'all.  Let's have a giveaway!  I don't know why, but I just love to give stuff away.  Probably because I know how happy I am when I win something or someone does something kind for me that I just want to make someone else feel that good too.

How about a $25 gift card to go fabric shopping??  Sound good to anyone else?

And this time around, let's support Amanda at Westwood Acres.  Amanda is fun to read over at her blog A Crafty Fox and gave away all kinds of goodies after Quilt Market.  And you know how I feel about giveaways!  ;)

She's got this Lark by Amy Butler jelly roll for $21.  And there's a layer cake too!
Lark by Amy Butler COMPLETE 24 Piece Quilter's Fabric Roll

Or this Riley Bake Polka Dot FQ Bundle for $24.75
NEW Riley Blake House Designer Small Polka Dots 11 Fat Quarter Bundle

And this Bella Solids Bright Bundle for $25 just makes me smile.
NEW Bella Solids 'Brights' Bundle of 8 Half Yards from Moda's Fall 2012 Release

And Field Study by AMH Feathers.  LOVE!  This half-yard bundle is only $19!
Field Study Feathers Half Yard Bundle from Anna Maria Horner for Free Spirit

But those are just some of the bundles.  She's got yardage in Chicopee, Out To Sea, and Chevrons besides a TON of half-yard bundles, charm packs, fat quarter and fat eigth bundles, etc.

I think I'm going to order some Madrona Road at the same time for myself.  A little birthday spoiling, maybe??  :)

So--let's get to the details--leave me a comment telling me your favorite birthday dessert.  Like I said yesterday--Chris would rather have hello dollies than cake and I'd eat just about anything!  But what's your favorite treat?

For an extra entry, let me know you're a follower, because y'all are so special to me to keep up with the ramblings I lay on you.  ;)

I'll keep the giveaway open until Monday (November 12) morning after I drop off the kids at school.  Around 8 a.m.  Then I'll randomly pick a winner.

Thanks for being here another year with me.  :)  Now I'm off to a birthday lunch with a friend.  Yay!

**This giveaway is completely organized and paid for by me.  I chose the gift because I wanted to share.**

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

One of those easy things...

You know those secret weapons in life that are super easy but everyone assumes you must be a genius pastry chef/top-notch seamstress/professor of awesomeness because you can do it??

Well, I have one of those to share with you today.  It's my recipe for the best bar cookies in the world.

Last week was Chris' birthday and he is INCREDIBLY low-key about his birthday.  Like, if we didn't celebrate or even mention it to him, he'd probably be okay about it.

But of course we do celebrate it because we love him.  The kids and I talked and decided what to get him for gifts, what to cook for supper and what to make for dessert.  Chris isn't a really big dessert eater, so while he likes chocolate cake, he'd eat a piece or maybe two and then guess who'd eat the rest...yep, me.  :/

So...I asked the kids what we should make instead and both piped up "Hello Dollies!!"  almost simultaneously.  Hello Dollies are one of my secret weapons.  You may know them as Magic Layer Bars, but everyone in my family calls them Hello Dollies and the name always makes me laugh.  They are probably Chris' favorite dessert in the entire world and thank goodness for that.  :)

This was the only one left this afternoon and Emma snapped a photo on my phone for me before sharing it with her brother...sorry for the phone pic.  ;)

Want to know how easy they are??  Of course you do...

Gather your ingredients together:
1 stick of butter
1 1/2 cup of graham cracker crumbs (I just throw a sleeve of graham crackers into my food processor and turn that baby on for a few seconds.)
1 can sweetened condensed milk  (YUM!!)
2 c. chocolate chips
1 1/3 c. coconut flakes
1 c. chopped nuts (I use pecans, but go wild with what your family likes)

Now...time to get busy...
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  While it's heating, throw the stick of butter into your 13 x 9" pan and put it in the oven to melt.

When melted, pull it out and sprinkle the graham cracker crumbs evenly over the melted butter.

Pour the milk over the crumbs and then sprinkle the remaining ingredients over the top.  Press everything down gently with a fork.

Now that your oven is fully preheated, pop the pan back in the oven for 25 minutes or until lightly browned.

Cool and cut!

See??  Easy peasy!  But, let me get a little honest with you here--I NEVER measure anything.  And I don't usually even gather my ingredients together until my butter is melting away.

This is usually how it goes around here--get a hankering for Hello Dollies...Turn on the oven and throw a stick of butter in the pan and get it to melting.  Grab everything else out of the pantry and crush up the crumbs.  When the butter is melted I drop the crumbs in, get them fairly even and then start sprinkling.  I put a few handfuls of each ingredient in till they look good and pour the milk over the top of everything.  Yep, it doesn't even matter what order you put it all in there.  Then I gently pat it all down with a fork and throw the pan back in the oven.

I have never taken these anywhere that I had leftovers.  Which is sad because I always want to eat the leftovers myself on the way home.

You can add or substitute the ingredients for what your family loves--peanut butter chips or butterscotch, maybe even cinnamon chips or toffee bits.

Next time you need a quick and easy secret weapon, try these Hello Dollies.  Your family will thank you.  :)

Hello Dolly Bars Recipe
Photo via My Recipes--now if only I had taken a picture like this last week... But we ate them too fast!  ;)

I'm linking up with Debbie a day late, but I have to say that her post yesterday on donuts drove me to get 2 donut pans at Walmart today and I think I know what I'll be baking up tomorrow...

Monday, November 5, 2012

My life...

gets busy.
is full right now.
consists of managing the schedules of 4 people. I have no idea how we have so much going on!
is so blessed that I'm not sure I could ask for more.

Sorry for the disappearing act, but life got full and something had to give.  In January, I spoke of balance.  Finding balance between all of the many jobs I try and do.  I am yet to find that balance.  I find that I flit from one thing to the next and that when push comes to shove, the part of my life that gets left behind is the part that is solely me.  That way I'm not letting anyone down but myself.  That way, everyone has what they need.  Except for me...

Except that when I lose my creativity--my time for sewing, knitting, blog-reading, book-reading, bible-reading, prayer time--I lose the glue that holds the rest of me together too.  So I slog through what has to be accomplished and feel tired every night.

And so it was last week.  Between PTO responsibilities, Halloween, celebrating Chris' birthday, homework, dance classes, Homecoming Week and the annual Run for Fun at school, there wasn't any time left for anything else... schedule is opening up.  My shoulders are feeling the burden lifted.  My creativity is rising up.

Balance is something I will need to continue to focus on and work harder at.  Balance is apparently not my strong point.  But, it is something that God has given me ample opportunity to work on.  And so I will...

I'm leaving you today with a smile.  Yes, Oren was an old-school ghost and yes, I did curl and spray-paint Emma's hair red.  It was awesome and I think she has quite a future as a red-head.  Her Daddy just grimaced and said he better buckle up for this ride.  ;)

I'll be back tomorrow...hopefully!