Monday, December 29, 2008

new years resolutions

I ran across some great notepads today at Pier One that will help just about any list maker/task master and many of them are perfect for making goals and resolutions. I checked the back of the product to find out who made them, hoping they would have a website (who doesn't these days?), and they did! Visit them (they are called Knock Knock) here and find more cool products like the ones you see below!

Seriously, they have so much great stuff. I want it all.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

happy holidays

Hope everyone had a GREAT Christmas! I am not ready to say good-bye to my Christmas decorations as this whole month seemed to fly by!

My Christmas gift to myself today was to be somewhat unproductive and veg a little. There was so much hustle and bustle leading up to the festivities, it felt nice to have a little down time.

During my break today I was able to organize some of my idea files, recipe books, play with Kaden, watch a cheesy tv Christmas movie, and revamp my to-do list. I am looking forward to the New Year and am feeling rather resolute already with some big goals in mind for 2009.

I hope to have some give-aways around the corner, some more pre-made designs in my shop, and to have some more blog design packages and pricing available, as that is what has sold the best so far.

I would love to hear if anyone has requests as far as what they would like to see in my shop and/or what they would like to see more/less of on my blog.

As far as my etsy jewelry shop goes, I think I have decided to shut it down as soon as the listings expire and focus more on my design shop. So if you have been eyeing any of the pieces, you have until January 22nd to purchase them. I plan to keep the hobby up because I really enjoy creating and wearing what I make, but currently am not feeling driven to go through the photography and listing process for future pieces I make and want to focus more on design.

Hope you all are staying warm and enjoying quality family time!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

santa's beard: free download

Off to a Christmas party, but not sure what to wear yet? You're sure to be a hit with your very own Santa's beard in tow. Click here to be directed to the site. Photo found on flickr here.

treats: rounds 2 and 3

Caramel Popcorn
1 cup butter
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp vanilla

Bring butter, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil, stirring constantly. Then boil 5 minutes (or until temperature gets about degrees).
Add baking soda and vanilla. Add gradually to 6 quarts of popped corn. Bake in shallow pan for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes ( I drizzled melted white and milk chocolate over the batch afterwards for fun).

Chocolate Mint Brownies
1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 tsp salt
4 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups chocolate syrup
1 cup sugar

Combine ingredients in a large mixing bowl; beat at medium speed for 4 minutes. Pour batter into a greased 13x9x2" baking pan. bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (top will appear wet) and let cool for thirty minutes.

2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp mint extract
3 drops green food coloring

Combine ingredients and mix in medium bowl. Beat until creamy. Spread over cooled brownies. Refrigerate until set.

1 package (10 oz.) mint chocolate chips (I used andes mints baking pieces)
9 Tbsp butter.

Melt over low heat in saucepan. Let cool for 30 minutes or until lukewarm, stirring occasionally. Spread over filling. Let cool, serve, and enjoy!

Monday, December 22, 2008

making a list...

and checking it TWICE. Can you believe Christmas is almost HERE??? I am both excited and a little nervous that I may not get everything done I want to before it arrives. I wonder how Santa deals this time of year?!

I got my first round of making treats and delivering them out of the way this weekend. Round one went to all family and friends leaving town and/or those who live on the other side of town. Now it is time to get to baking again and get those closest to me (in vicinity). Round three will go to those I missed before they skipped town. Whew! Baking is a lot of work. But, I really can't complain as I love to do it, eat it along the way, and give the majority of it away:)

First Round:

I got the boxes from Martha's new Walmart line.


Fantasy Fudge (there seem to be a few different recipes circulating out there all called 'Fantasy Fudge.' This is my fav):
3 cups sugar
3/4 cup margarine
2/3 cup evaporated milk
12 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
7 oz. jar marshmallow cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Melt sugar, margarine and milk in saucepan. Bring to boil stirring constantly until candy thermometer reaches 234 degrees. remove from heat and stir in chocolate chips, marshmallow cream, vanilla, and nuts. Pour into 9x9 pan lined with wax paper.

Almond Roca:
King Size Hershey Bar, grated
4 oz. slivered almonds, chopped fine (optional)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup margarine
1 1/2 cup granulated sugar

Sprinkle a fine layer of chopped almonds in the bottom of a 9x9 pan. Sprinkle half of the grated chocolate over the almonds. In heavy saucepan over medium heat cook butter, margarine, and sugar mixture stirring constantly. Cook until candy thermometer reaches about 300 degrees and mixture is a caramel color. Drizzle over chocolate and nuts. Sprinkle remaining chocolate over top, then almonds. Let cool and break apart with butter knife.

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
1 cup light corn syrup
1/8 tsp. salt
1 tsp. anise extract

Line 9x9 pan with greased tin-foil.

Melt butter over low heat in heavy 3 qt pan. Add sugar, sweetened condensed mil, corn syrup and salt. Mix well. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until candy thermometer reaches 244 degrees (firm ball stage). Add anise. Stir to mix. Quickly pour candy into prepared ban. Let cool several hours until firm. Cut into small squares and wrap with wax paper.

Up next: Caramel Popcorn and Mint Brownies

Thursday, December 18, 2008

winter wonderland

It isn't often that it snows in St. George, so when I woke up and caught a glimpse of the bright white outside, I knew I had to alter my baking, cleaning, designing all day plans. I then bundled the Kadester up (as well as myself) and headed outside!

Upon the removal of our snow attire I knew what had to come next.

I dusted off our cocoa latte machine (I highly recommend purchasing one) and pulled out the Stephen's hot cocoa mix and got to brewin' :)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

holiday gift tags: free downloads

I'm sure there are lots of cute free downloadable gift tags out there that I have missed, but I have tried to bookmark as many as I have run across to share with you. Here are some of the greats I have seen (click on the words to be linked to the associated tags):

1. Domestica:

2. Sugarloop:

3. A Little Hut:

4. HGTV:

5. A Print a Day:

6. Seussville: (these would be extra fun for kids to use and color)

7. The Black Apple:

8. Papercrave:

9. Fog & Thistle:

10. Lolly Chops:

11. Sew Mama Sew:

12. Sew Mama Sew:

Monday, December 15, 2008

wrapping gifts: inspiration

Of course Martha would be the best source for inspiration when it comes to beautifully wrapped gifts. Here are some of my favorites to inspire you when deciding on just how you want the gifts under your tree to look this year.

Such cute tags, gift card, and money holders!

View more and see "how-to's"here.

I also love this tip on beautiful ribbon for a great price from Jordan of Oh Happy Day. I think the real stuff always looks the best, but budget constraints have prevented me from using much of it in the past.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

christmas neighbor gifts

I recently heard that neighbor gifts was a "Utah thing," but upon reflection I beg to differ. I grew up in Oregon and Washington and we always gave and enjoyed neighbor gifts. Do a google search on Christmas neighbor gifts however, and a lot of Utah websites seem to reach the top of that list:)

At any rate, I think they are a great tradition. After all, the best part of the holiday season really is the joy of giving. I must say also, that I think it is important to only do what you can. Get creative if you are low on time and/or money, and don't feel bad if you simply can't find the time to do it.

Here are some of my favorites, including some of the most memorable ones my family received growing up, and some I just have seen around on the internet that I thought were clever...

1. Two words. Treat. Plates. I am pretty sure these rank number one as the most common gift given. I think they may rank number one in my books too, just because I am such a sucker for sugar, chocolate, and homemade baked goods. I think my top three treats are 1) fudge 2) almond roca(I make it without almonds) and 3) dipped pretzels.... but really I love it all!

2. The gift of service. Babysitting vouchers are always appreciated. Maybe shovel their sidewalk. Or some future freezer dinners. Make some coupons up to put in a card and make sure you follow through as they may be likely to feel hesitant to take you up on it.

3. Punny, fast and easy ideas found here.

4. I'll never forget when we were given a beautiful basket filled with stuff to make warm winter drinks along with a mini homemade Santa Bag with the True Meaning of Christmas Poem inside with little miniature representations for each symbol. Santa's bag was one of our favorite things to pull out of our Christmas decorations each year.

5. That same family, the following year, gave us one of our other favorite gifts- 25 Christmas stories photocopied and bound. We would read (or try to) a story a day and loved each one. Christmas stories can be found all over the internet and now are easier than ever to copy, paste, and print off:)

6. A personalized cd of your family's favorite Christmas songs. (Get cute fee 'scrapbook-look' cd templates here.)

7. An ornament.

8. An amaryllis or poinsettia plant. We were given an amaryllis to grow two years ago an honestly, I was a little nervous to plant it because (shamefully) my track record isn't that great with indoor plants. But amaryllis' are amazing! They grow so fast and are so beautiful and resilient. We loved our little amaryllis!!

9. Christmas craft kit. Craft or school supplies make great teacher gifts as well as teachers never seem to have enough funds for school supplies. {The craft kit pictured above, though not necesarily Christmas, but photographed beautifully is from Martha Stewart and is on sale here}

10. Design mom, as always, has some fabulous ideas here and here(scroll way down). {Wish I were her neighbor:) }

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Design Mom: Twelve Days of Christmas

Gabrielle Blair just announced she will be having a a "super-wonderful-over-the-top-holiday-celebration" on Design Mom starting Friday, December 12th. Can't wait to see more details as she always has the best giveaways. Check it out!

holiday gift guide: catch all

Okay, so this gift guide is kind of random but has a lot of fun things in it. Some of them are kind of gag-gifty, some of them are more like stocking stuffers. But at any rate, there are lots of good ideas and sources. So, without further ado....

For the Gardner in Your Life:

1. Talking Bean Plant! $15
2. Grow a Wish Kit $19

For Grandparents:

Help the grandparents in your life show that not only do they have the cutest grandkids, but they are technologically savvy with these gifts!
1. Digital Photo Key Chain $18
2. Digital Photo Watch $60
3. Digital Photo Display with Touch Screen$99

For Men:

1. Guide for New Dads$13 (I think I am going to get this for my man before we have another baby!!)
2. Tie Tack $9
3. Tie $30
4. Cuff LInks $10
5. Wrist Cuff/Wallet $45

For Moms:

1. Mama's Little Book of Tricks $13
2. Supermom Necklace $23

For Parents:

1. Airfork One $10
2. Wheel of Responsibility $13
3. Kid Remote $9

More for the Ladies (of all ages!):

1. Funny Earrings $40 (the second pair would be funny to give your teen, although, they probably, like, totally wouldn't wear them)
2. Mini Chi Travel Set $99
3. Decorative Hair Elastics $5
4. Feather Headband $34
5. Poppy Pins $5
6. Reversible Headband$8
7. Feather Hair Clip $18
8. Headband Set $10
9. Travel Jewelry Wallet $25
10. Jewelry Tree $49
11. More Cute Bobbie Pins $10
12. This one isn't pictured above but ANY Bare Escentuals kit I'm sure would be well received!

More Random Stuff:

1. For Your Resident Thespian $7 (This guy has lots of cool Shakespearian illustration stuff)
2. For the Writer in Your Life $8
3. For Animal Lovers $20

1. For the Brownie Edge Lover $36
2. For ANYONE $5 (This etsy store has lots of cute cheap downloadables)
3. For a Reader $4

{Prices are rounded to the nearest dollar}

Oh, and did I forget to mention? Of course, anything from any of my two etsy shops would be a wonderful gift also:) Ha!

Monday, December 8, 2008

holiday gift guide: babies and kids

Here are some adorable and educational gift ideas for babies and kids for reasonable prices! Wish I could get them all!!

1. Etsy $27.50
2. Etsy $11.99
3. Etsy $24
4. Etsy $24.99
5. Uncommon Goods $18

1. Uncommon Goods $34
2. Liapela $50
3. Uncommon Goods $40- This was one of my favorite stories when I was little
4. Modern Nursery (set of three) $25
5. Uncommon Goods $36- Kaden loves monsters and I know he would love this book and little monster friend.
6. Uncommon Goods $50
7. Etsy $36
8. Moolka $22.49
9. Oompa $13.49

Can you tell I love books? I would have put the whole Oompa website on here if I could have. Visit their site for hours of fun!! Stay tuned for more gift guides!

Here's a link to some great etsy gift guides also!