December 10, 2012

Christmas Tree Skirt

I love Christmas crafts! Each year my list of holiday projects to complete grows and grows. And of course, I never have time to get them all finished. But I certainly try my best. This year I was determined to complete some bigger projects. My husband Tony and I bought our first full-size Christmas tree this year, so of course we needed a tree skirt to go under it!

I searched Pinterest for inspiration, and came across this tutorial. (GREAT tutorial that was super easy to follow.) It was perfect! Tony and I both had patchwork tree skirts growing up, so we loved how it reminded us of Christmas memories growing up.

I just LOVE the assortment of fabrics I chose! Let me tell you, it was really hard to narrow it down to just 8 or so fabrics from the large selection at the fabric store. My favorite one is the deep red with gold holly leaves.

I added a bit of fun flair with the pom-pom fringe. The tree skirt wasn't too hard to put together, but it just took a lot of time pinning and sewing carefully around those pom-poms.

Hand-tying all the squares took a whole evening itself! I used red sparkly embroidery floss, and cut the strands to about an inch long after I was done tying.

I absolutely love the finished product! Can't wait to use it for the next several years and have it pictured in our own Christmas memories in the future.

July 27, 2012

Win Yourself an iPad!

Smart Apps for Kids is giving away another iPad! I just know one of these times I am going to be the lucky winner. I hope this is it!

November 12, 2011

Best. Chocolate. Cake. EVER!

I made this for a birthday at work. The BDay girl is a Huuuuuuuuuuge chocolate lover - the darker the better. So I searched long and hard for a dark chocolate cake. I ended up choosing the chocolate cake that had the biggest amount of cocoa that I could find, and used Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder instead of unsweetened that was called for.

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CAKE (smittenkitchen)

3 oz. fine-quality semisweet chocolate (I used semisweet chocolate chips)
1 1/2 cups hot brewed coffee
3 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch process) (I used Hershey's Special Dark cocoa)
2 teaspoons baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
3 large eggs
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla

Grease and flour round cake pans and line with wax paper. Combine chocolate with coffee and stir occasionally until melted.

Sift together sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In a separate bowl beat eggs for a couple minutes until thickened. Add oil, buttermilk, vanilla, and coffee mixture to eggs, beating until combined well. Add sugar/flour mixture and beat just until combined.

Bake 300* for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes, until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Place pans on cooling racks and leave cakes in pans until they are completely cool, then invert cakes onto racks. Cake layers may be made one day ahead and kept, wrapped well in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

The recipe called for two 10" rounds, but I only have 9", and there was a LOT of batter. My cake pans were over 3/4 full and I was worried they would spill over onto the oven. So I ended up filling up ramekins for mini chocolate cakes.

Man o man, this cake looks reallllly dark! I thought it was burned when it came out of the oven (it wasn't). It didn't really taste like dark chocolate (not bitter), but had the strongest chocolate flavor I've ever had in a chocolate cake. It was sooooo good. And that frosting - perfect. Really great consistency for spreading on the cake and really great flavor. Make it today and again and again any time you need a chocolate cake!

I found the frosting recipe on the back of the cocoa canister. It was PERFECT for this cake:


1/2 c. butter or margarine
2/3 c. Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa
3 c. powdered sugar
1/3 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Melt butter. Stir in cocoa. Alternately add powdered sugar and milk, beating to spreading consistency. Add small amount of additional milk if needed. Stir in vanilla. Yields about 2 c. frosting.

April 1, 2011

{recipe} Teriyaki Stir Fry

This recipe comes from a Pampered Chef cookbook that my sister lent me. I bookmarked several recipes that I'd like to try, but this one was the lucky first.

Teriyaki Stir Fry (from Pampered Chef: It's Good For You)

2/3 c. reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 c. packed brown sugar
1 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. peeled, finely chopped fresh gingerroot (I used 1 tsp ground ginger)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
1 lb. boneless pork loin chops (or chicken), cut into 1/8" strips (I omitted this, and instead added sliced fresh mushrooms)
2 c. uncooked instant whole grain brown rice
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1/4" strips
6 oz. fresh snow peas, trimmed (I used frozen)
1 bunch green onions with tops, cut into 1" pieces (I used minced yellow onion)
1 tsp. sesame oil, divided
1 can (8 oz.) bamboo shoots, drained
(I also added sliced carrots, and next time will add broccoli)


In small bowl, combine soy sauce, brown sugar, and cornstarch. Whisk until blended, then stir in ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes. Add pork (or mushrooms!) to soy sauce mixture, stir to coat, and refrigerate 15 minutes to marinate. Cook rice according to pkg directions. Heat 1/2 tsp. sesame oil over high heat until hot. Remove pork (or mushrooms!) from marinade and add to skillet (save the marinade!). Stir-fry 1-2 minutes until no longer pink. Remove from skillet and keep warm. In same skillet, heat other 1/2 tsp. sesame oil. add veggies and stir-fry 2-3 minutes until veggies are slightly tender/slightly crisp. Return pork (or mushrooms!) to skillet. Stir in reserved marinade and bamboo shoots, and bring to boil. Cook and stir 1 minute until sauce is thickened. Serve over rice.

Makes 6 servings.

YUM! YUM! YUM! So good! And once all the prep work was done, it cooked together in a flash. Slightly sweet, slightly spicy - a keeper!

March 31, 2011

New Wall Art

Blank wall behind my tv for the past year and a half. Time to fix it. Based on this tutorial, I came up with this:
CONAN! (I <3 U)
It only took a couple hours to cut out (while catching up on DVR). Easy!

Cake Decorating

I got a Wilton cake decorating set from my sister for Christmas, and I tested it out this week when I made a cake for a coworker's birthday. Here's the result:

I used Wilton tip #21 to make the stars.

And here's a link to the Old Fashioned Yellow Cake recipe I tested from Sing for Your Supper.

March 14, 2011

Quilting Experiment

When it came time to pick out a wedding gift for some friends, their registry was pretty well-picked over. So I decided to make a personalized appliqued wall-hanging. The only experience I have with applique/quilting was a baby blanket I helped my Mom make almost 3 years ago. To say the least, I was a bit rusty and inexperienced. Flash forward to a few days of scouring applique books at Hobby Lobby, searching for tutorials from various blogs, and a hand-drawn pattern...Here's what I came up with:

I'm very pleased!

The technique was largely based on this tutorial from Samelia's Mum.

Linking up to Get Your Craft On @ Today's Creative Blog.