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:

Monday, November 28, 2011

-- Dare to... Eat Cookies --

It feels like I keep making little adjustments to the Dare to DIY Challenge and this week - Dare to Eat Cookies isn't any exception.  Fortunately, Kim is a pretty nice person and I think she will still accept my contribution :)

At our house we are making a concerted effort to cut way back on the snacks - which definitely includes cookies.  However, Christmas isn't Christmas without Lemon Bread so we made the choice to forego cookies and indulge in our Lemon Bread instead.

With a sweet, tangy and crunchy glaze on top this bread is just perfect.  Here's the recipe which has been passed down through both of our families for a few generations...

Glazed Lemon Bread
 - 1/2 cup shortening
 - 1 cup sugar
 - 2 eggs
 - 1/2 cup milk
 - 1 1/2 cup flour
 - 1 tsp baking powder
 - grated rind of 1 lemon

Mix and place in a greased loaf pan.  Bake at 350 degree for 45 to 60 minutes depending on your pan.

When cooked remove from oven and drizzle immediately (while in hot pan) with the following mixture:
 - juice of 1 lemon
 - 1/4 cup sugar

** I made this batch with multigrain flour and Lucas reported that it tasted "funny"  I'd agree and say it was definitely heavier than usual but it still had a great flavor.

If you want to check out a similar Christmas treats... check out what I posted earlier this fall: Homemade Peppermint Patties or one of the Dare to... Eat Cookies challenges from last year: here and here.

Dare to DIY

Sunday, November 20, 2011

-- Chicken Noodle Soup --

Sunday Soup Night this week was totally comfort food.  We spent most of the weekend working on Christmas projects for friends and family and getting some decorating done... Lucas is now affectionately calling himself Santa every time he heads into his workshop and me - Mrs. Claus :)  Here's a sneak peek at what Mrs. Claus was up to this weekend...

Knowing that we would be ready to kick back on Sunday evening to recover we put a chicken on the BBQ rotisserie with the plan for chicken noodle soup.  Here's what we ended up with after mixing the chicken, carrot, onion, celery, garlic, chicken stock and spices.  I particularly enjoyed the addition of some chilli powder.

Oh, we did add noodles as well, some miniature bows, actually.  They aren't pictured because we decided to cook them separately and just add them to our actual bowl.  This went a long way in ensuring that the pasta didn't swell too much... in fact it was *perfect*

Lucas might convert me into a soup lover after all ;-)

Thursday, November 17, 2011

-- Clark Wood Creations: Hall Table --

One of the very first items that Lucas made was this wall-hanging shelf that we use as a hall table.  I just happened to have the camera out a while ago and the light was perfect so I figured it was time for it to make an appearance.

The hall table/shelf is made of black walnut and it has a danish oil finish that feels super smooth.  With three drawers, its the perfect place for Lucas to drop his assortment of items that need a place to land (wallet, cell phone etc...), mail that needs to be filed and other odd things.  

What I love about it is that even though we have a narrow hallway, we have a place to decorate for the seasons.

When we first installed this shelf I was in love with this wall paper... I'm starting to tire of it now but I still love the way the dark wood plays off the black and white of the wall paper.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

-- Clark Wood Creations: Rocking Horse --

I've mentioned before that Lucas follows a blog called The Wood Whisperer.  The author of the blog, Mark, recently welcomed a son and a couple months ago started a project that he invited his readers to participate in.  Everyone got access to a free template for a rocking horse and Marc got sponsors that committed to donate money for every rocking horse that was built.  The money is going to be donated to Woodworkers Fighting Cancer.  

We haven't quite decided what to do with the rocking horses yet.  We are choosing between donating the horses to a local children's charity and trying to sell them and donating that money to Marc's fund.

Lucas did all the hard work but I did some of the detail painting on the saddles and also the eyes and nose.

What do you think... donate them or try to sell them?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

-- Dare to... Be Thankful: Sunday Soup Night --

Such a great weekend!  Two days of sleeping in makes me really happy :)  It also doesn't hurt that while I was cleaning the house on Saturday Lucas surprised me with dinner reservations at one of our favorite Italian places, Del Dente.  Lucas had the special, fusilli with peppers, peas and pearl onions in a parmesan cream sauce, and I had fettucine with pepper and red onion in a bolognese sauce - YUM!  We finished the night off watching a movie on the couch.

Sunday I headed out to HomeSense and for groceries.  I was lucky and found a couple small cabinets that I'm going to use for a project in our bedroom that I'll share later on.  

For today though I'm super excited to participate in the Dare to DIY party that Kim is throwing again this year.
Dare to DIY
This week is Dare to... Be Thankful.  And while we celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving last month, I still wanted to participate in the party :)  So for this week's Sunday Soup Night I made a soup with tons of fall flair!  Earlier this fall we've tried Natalie's Ribolitta, and Butternut Squash, Ginger and Orange soup and Natalie's Lemon Orzo Chicken soup.  Tonight's was a recipe I found on Pinterest - Spicy Sweet Potato Soup.  Lucas says it was the perfect blend of creamy, pureed goodness... 

This one was ever so slightly complicated  - but I think it was worth it.  So yummy!

I also made a small batch of blitz bread to serve on the side.  I don't think I let it rise quite long enough but it was a nice side dish.

We don't have a soup recipe for next week - any suggestions??

Oh and if you haven't already, be sure to pop by the NewlyWoodwards and  check out some of the great Thanksgiving DIY projects!

** Check out what I did last year (2010)

Friday, November 11, 2011

-- In Appreciation --

 ... of those who have fallen, of those who have served and those who currently serve

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. 
Short days ago We lived, 
felt dawn, saw sunset glow,   
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw 
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
 If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
- by John McCrae        eoiwruwoeiurow

Thursday, November 10, 2011

-- Winter White --

This fall has been a challenge for me.  It just feels like the weeks are flying by!  Mondays are long days at work because of a late in the day meeting that just makes the evening commute home even longer.  As a result, on Monday nights we get home around 6:30/6:45pm, make dinner, make our lunch for the next day and its just about time for bed.  On Tuesdays I teach a 3hr night class that doesn't get over until 10pm and then I get up at 5:30am the next morning for work on Wednesdays.  Because of this somewhat crazy schedule to my early week, by the time Wednesday evenings come around I am so ready to change into some jammies, and hang out on the couch.

Last night, we did just that but also wanted a little sweet snack with our hot evening beverage :)  So I tried out a recipe that I found on Pinterest. 

The "pin-spiration":

My version:

I didn't have any evaporated milk so I used a light cream and I think it turned out fine.  I also didn't have a whole bunch of chocolate so I fully dipped a couple peppermint patties and just half-dipped the rest.  

The bonus: these guys only took about 20 minutes and half of that was waiting for them to firm up in the freezer!

I spent the rest of my evening winterizing my nails... another "pinspiration" :)

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

-- If I Hadn't Forgotton --

This song by Keaton Simons has been on repeat for the past few days.  I downloaded a duet version that also features Didi Benami but wasn't able to find that version in a format that I could share here.

So beautiful I've been singing it in my sleep :)

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

-- Operation Christmas Child --


We committed to filling a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child (Samaritan's Purse) this fall and I've really got to get it a move on it.  So far, I've got a few mini containers of play-doh, a pencil and eraser set and a little puzzle but nothing else.  The box is virtually empty.  I know that it only requires a trip to Walmart to more than fill the box but I'm still sort of stumped on cool things to put inside.  Any ideas?  So far our items are not gender specific but we are going to have to narrow down to boy or girl and 2-4, 5-9 or 10-14 yrs.

So far, I've only succeeded in colouring the box ;-)

Yes, I may have enjoyed the colouring a little too much...

If you haven't heard of Operation Christmas Child before and you think you'd like to participate check them out here

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

-- Hi Blog, It's Me --

I've been thinking about this little blog lately and the consensus is that I've missed it around here.  Sure I've been keeping up with all the blogs that I read, but I find that when I'm not blogging I don't really comment on other people's blogs either.  That's just not ok.  So in honour of the beginning of a new month, I figured I should pop in an make a list of the things that we've been up to over of the past couple of months.

My last post was in July so lets start off in...


  • Lets be real, I don't remember much from August - work was crazy busy but we did squeeze in a trip to the Maritimes to hang out with my family and to attend a family wedding...

  • We celebrated our birthdays by eating a couple of fabulous meals at Italian places - Del Dente and Sotto in the Village.  We even met up for coffee with my sister and her fiance so they could show off their Save The Dates for their upcoming wedding.
  • I started teaching a class on Tuesday evenings (just for the fall semester) so my Tuesday nights got really busy really soon.
  • We celebrated the return of TV!  We are keeping up with some of our usual favorites like Modern Family, Grey's Anatomy and Hawaii 5-0 but we've also added a couple new shows to the lineup.  We are loving Revenge!

  • I had the opportunity to attend a work-related conference in Atlanta, GA.  The meeting just happened to be right after Canadian Thanksgiving so Lucas took a few days off and came along.  We spent a couple of days exploring Charleston, SC, then headed to Savannah, GA for a couple more days before ending our trip in Atlanta.  We had a great time and I'll likely blog some pictures from the trip at a later date.
  • We are welcoming fall by reintroducing Sunday Soup Nights at our place.  So far we've tried Natalie's Ribolitta, and a Butternut Squash, Ginger and Orange soup that we found in What's Cooking magazine a while back.  This week we are thinking of trying Lemon Orzo Chicken soup, or maybe a Light Baked Potato Soup - we'll see which wins out soon enough :)
Anyways, so far our fall has been relatively uneventful other than that I'm working on some job applications and Lucas has some woodworking projects on the go.  Last November I blogged every day for the month - if my track record recently is any indication - I'm guessing I won't make it every day this month but hey, a girl can dream right?
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