Friday, December 23, 2011

-- Merry Christmas Everyone --

Well everyone, its the day before, the night before, Christmas so today is as good as any to share a Happy Holidays greeting!  If you are taking some time off over the holidays we hope you have a wonderful, relaxing time and if you are working, we hope you enjoy it as much as possible.

Have a wonderful holiday!

Monday, December 19, 2011

-- Dare to... Have Traditions 2011 Edition --

Well, another year of Dare to DIY parties is coming to a close ... *tear*  Thanks again Kim for having us all!  Its been fun getting to know a few new bloggers this year!

This final week is all about family traditions at Christmas.  In the 2009 edition I shared that on Christmas Eve we always have a game night after attending a candlelit Christmas Eve service at church.  And in the 2010 edition I shared our collection of Christmas ornaments that we've been fortunate to collect on our various vacations.

Aside from those, I don't really have many other traditions to share.  Sure, we have our knit stockings that we lay out on Christmas Eve...

Dad reads "Twas the Night Before Christmas" while we each unwrap a new set of jammies...
In fact, last year, which I spent away from my parents, my parents even recorded a version of the story for me to play with my in-laws.

But one of the best traditions is baking Gingerbread Men!  Which we just happened to do last night.  Of course, I burned the bums of the first 2 dozen, but the rest of our little Gingerbread People made it through fairly well :)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

-- A Favorite Christmas Recipe: 2011 --

This Christmas we are on a self-imposed diet of only indulging in fabulous sweets and treats that we know we will absolutely love... that means, a slice of lemon bread - oh yes, bring it on... a sugar cookie from the neighbour - no thank you I'll pass.  In essence we are passing on the "oks" so that we can really enjoy the "amazings" without any guilt.

This is not easy.  I've had to distract myself - a lot!

So while I was busy putting one of these together for our puppy's groomer I was able to avoid thinking about our favourite Fudgy Peppermint Candy brownies :)

But given today's blog party at Schue Love (a perfectly gorgeous blog) for Bringing Holiday Cheer to the Blogosphere where we are sharing a Christmas recipe... my thoughts of fudge-y peppermint-y brownies were not to be tamed :)

Michaela Noelle

But seriously, where is my self-restraint?  I'll be making these next week for my sister's bridal shower that I'm throwing and I just couldn't live with myself (and my growing waistline) if I indulged 2x in one week... so today, I'm going to share the recipe and imagine the taste of these guys in my mouth... mmmmm... good!!

The recipe comes from this fantastic cookbook which I rely on every Christmas for all the best recipes!

Filled with pictures like this one, its hard not to drool on the pages :)  These peanut butter toffee turtle cookies taste as good as they look - trust me!

But really, the star of the show is the Fudgy Peppermint Candy Brownie... its like a Peppermint Mocha in solid form - Fantastic!!  I usually make them from scratch as per the recipe but I've also cheated and added peppermint extract to a favorite brownie-in-a-box mix and topped with the chopped up York Peppermint Patties when I was in a hurry and it was still phenomenal.

If you try out the recipe let me know and I will attempt to live vicariously through your tastebuds... hmmm, that sounds weird... but you get the idea ;-)

** Only two more days until the last Bring Cheer party at Michaela's where we will be sharing Holiday Decor... 

Thursday, December 08, 2011

-- Christmas Tree 2011 --

After the "Great Tree Debaucle" of early December 2011 where our freshly decorated real Balsam Fir tree decided it would prefer to have a little lay down on the floor...

We have redecorated and even placed a couple wrapped gifts below.  Wanna see?

We always pick up a new ornament when we go on vacation.  This fall we visited Charleston, Savannah and Atlanta so here is one of our newest ornament additions...

Love how the tree looks when its all aglow.  The smell of the real balsam fir is quite possibly one of the best things ever :)

Here's to hoping she stays upright this time!!

I'm linking this post up with Kim's Dare to DIY Party from the Newlywoodwards where everyone is sharing their ways of Decking the Halls...

Dare to DIY Blog Party

... and with Megan from Honey We're Home who is showcasing some A-MAZ-ING trees at the Bringing Christmas Cheer to the Blogosphere party!!

... and with Thrifty Decor Chick who is hosting the big Christmas Tree Party!

christmas tree party

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

-- My Makeshift Mantle: 2011 --

Ugh - it gets dark here so early these days!  It makes it virtually impossible to get a good photo.

Today Michelle at Ten June is hosting Mantle Day for the Bringing Christmas Cheer to the Blogosphere Party.  Unfortunately, we aren't fortunate enough to have a fireplace in our home (its definitely on our must-have list for our next home though) but we like to improvise around here.  We choose to deck out the top of our piano during the holidays instead.

I decided on a silver and white theme for this year and its making me so happy to see it sparkling!

I ended up moving our acrylic JOY letters onto the 'mantle' once I realized that they would fit right in.  For some height on one side I stuck 4 ornament sprays (supposed to be stuck into a bare spot in a Christmas tree) into a basic white water pitcher that matches our china.  I added a couple silver and crystal candlesticks and fancy snowflake ornaments beside to keep it company :)

The other side also has some height going on in the form of a plain clear glass vase that I filled with faux snow.  A little trick that I used was putting another small cylinder container inside the vase that displaces some of the snow so I didn't need to use quite as much.  Also, the smaller globe object is actually a lamp but I needed to turn it off for the picture because it was throwing off the exposure.

The middle of the 'mantle' feature a sparkly wire tree that I got at a local home accessories store.

I think one of my favorite things about this 'mantle' are all the crystal candle holders and tealights.  As soon as we get home for the evening Lucas lights them all and it really makes the living room feel quite cozy!

Make sure to visit Ten June to check out everyone else's mantle!

Monday, December 05, 2011

-- Christmas Greetings --

Do you send out Christmas cards?

Last year we threw around the idea of sending out photo Christmas cards but we sort of chickened out and just sent regular greeting cards to our close friends and family.

This year everyone else's Christmas cards got me thinking again so I decided to play around with some family pictures that we had taken earlier this year.

from Shutterfly

from TinyPrints

from TinyPrints

from Shutterfly

So I went ahead and order a set and they just arrived in the mail.  We settled on a Shutterfly design for this year but I was really tempted by a bunch of the options from TinyPrints.  Since we haven't mailed them to our friends and family yet, I won't share the final choice just yet but will later on in the season.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

-- Dare to... Give Homemade Gifts --

Its that time again - Dare to DIY party time with Kim at the NewlyWoodwards!  This week its all about the homemade gifts and if you know Lucas and I we do lots of homemade gifts every year for Christmas.

The thing is... most of the people that we are giving gifts to this year also read the blog and I really don't want to give it away.  But here's a glimpse at what we gave our family last year...

Both sets of Moms and Dads received a desk clock and matching pen/pencil holder (not pictured).

We made this photo key holder for Lucas' grandparents who had sold their home and moved into a smaller condo during the year.

My little sister wanted a walnut end-grain cutting board and this one had an especially beautiful grain pattern.

And the big one for last Christmas was a hall table for Lucas' sister.  It was a combination of a bubinga top and a black stained ash bottom.

For this year I do have one special set of gifts that I can share and that's because they are for the pets of the family - chances are they aren't reading the blog :)

I made them little winter coats with a beautiful snowflake fleece.  Here's Izzy modelling the coat that she will be tearing open and my parent's dog Levi will have a matching one.

They have the nice fleece beside their fur and a coordinating grey on the outside.

And just so that the other pets in the family don't left out - I made a much bigger version out of just fleece for the family golden retriever...

And a tiny, miniature version with matching blanket for my niece's pet hamster "Runner". I was actually talking to her on the phone when I told her I was making something for Runner and she actually guessed that it was a shirt... 5 year olds aren't supposed to be so good at guessing :)

Check out some of the other neat gift ideas at the Newlywoodwards!

Dare to DIY

 And many other DIY projects here:

The DIY Show Off

Thursday, December 01, 2011

-- Christmas Vignette --

In celebration of Holiday Vignette Day, which Courtney is hosting at A Thoughtful Place, I wanted to share my the way I've styled my hall table for Christmas.


Around our house we typically stick with a red, white and silver colour scheme but when I found these shiny green candle holders on sale last year I knew I had to have them.  In order to avoid the red and green thing though I'm trying to keep the green fairly removed from anything red.

Of course, this is still a hall table so I needed to include a little dish for random small items that need a place to live until I get a chance to put them away.

Trying to keep the heights varied, I also brought in a green glass luminary that I got a Crate and Barrel earlier this year and some acrylic letters that spell "JOY" my favourite Christmas word (it shows up all over the house).

Hey, neat, I can see my reflection in some of the globes :)

We also got a chance to put up our garland on the banister.  I've posted about this before but its basically a wire garland with lights, glitter-y cording, and silver and red globes mixed in.

In other SUPER EXCITING NEWS - my amazingly talented husband was featured in a Holiday Gift Guide by the folks at Custom Made.  So he's created 10 limited edition end grain cutting boards to be featured.  We are so excited for this great exposure and I'm especially proud!!

If you happen to be in the market for a handmade Christmas gift for a friend or loved one, we would love for you to check out the gift guide and get in touch.  We also just finished up some edge grain cutting boards that we are selling for almost 50% off the regular price for the holidays.  All are priced between $20 and $40 and are a cinch to ship within North America!  If you are interested, send me a message or leave a comment and I'll be in touch!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

-- 2011 Advent Calendar --

Over the weekend I made another project that I had pinned to Pinterest.  This one was specifically for my husband Lucas.  He's a fairly awesome guy to have around and he goes crah - ray - zee over Christmas so I wanted to do something that would make the season seem really great.

- Lucas if you are reading... avert your eyes :) -

The idea came from here and the premise is simple - its an advent calendar so they open an envelope each day that contains either a compliment, a special treat or a plan for some time spent together.  I included about a third of each.

My first step was making 24 messages.  This was seriously the hardest part for me.  I consulted my calendar to make sure we weren't planning a date night on an evening where I knew I'd have to stay late at work etc...  I made mine using simple text boxes in MS Word and printed them out on regular printer paper.

My messages ranged any where from cheesy compliments, to free back massages, to a night planned walking around a local park to check out the Christmas lights.

I also printed out some numbers in a neat font (here's a link to the numbers that I used) and glued them onto some Christmas-y printed scrapbooking paper.

Then I inserted the messages in a larger rectangle of a coordinating scrapbooking paper which I folded into a mini envelope.

After sticking my date/number label on top of the envelope opening I had my little advent packages...

What?  You use your treadmill for running?  Whatever...
I chose to hang each of the envelopes on our tree with a little ornament hanger.

And then....

This happened 2 hours later while Lucas was watering the tree.

Such disappointment.

We had a few casualties in the form of broken ornaments and soaked advent packages.  But I just finished redecorating the tree.  Lets just say that decorating it the second time was not quite as satisfying as the first time.  I'll share the finished product later this week.

Visit here for other Christmas craft projects:
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