Wednesday, January 12, 2011

American Girl Farmhouse Bed from Knock-off Wood

Okay, you have to forgive me for one more Christmas post and a title that may generate so much traffic that my little old blog on the edge of the internet crashes and burns.  But, the title fits and I can't go any further into January without showing you the AMAZING bed my husband and son made for my younger daughter for Christmas. 

I am a big (big, big) fan of Knock-off-wood along with just about the entire universe or at least the thousands of facebook fans who ardently follow her every furniture plan.  I have big plans to actually build some of those plans one of these days, but this Christmas it was my husband and my 6 year old son who jumped in and got the job done.  I didn't get the action shots of them working on it, but here is the end result:

I very inexpertly made the bedding for it.  I have less than minimal sewing knowledge and skills, so it was kind of an interesting morning when I decided I wanted to make a "quilt" for this little bed.  I ended up getting some flannel fabric in a cute print and doubling it over, making kind of a pillow out of it by sewing up the edges.  Then, I stuffed it with a little batting and just sewed in random patterns all over it. 

So, now, it kind of has the look of a quilt-at least the dolls aren't complaining!  If you want to find the plans for the bed, just visit Ana's site.  I will warn you, however, that you will want to make every single thing on her website. 

Here is just one more picture of the bed because, seriously, it's too cute:

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Thursday, January 06, 2011

getting organized for Christmas..... 2011!

Yup, you read that title right.  I am thinking about next Christmas even as I un-decorate the house from this Christmas.  My house looks like it has a hangover right now, from a really great party.  There are random pieces of wrapping paper under the couch.  A sparkly ornament slid underneath the China cabinet and you can see it when the light hits it just right.  There are stray decorations still up, but most have been packed away for next year. 

Every year, there are the same amount of days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the same amount of hours in each of those days and yet, some years like this one, I can't seem to get it all done in time.  Of course, we were still renovating and painting the kitchen well into October, so that could be partly to blame for my late-entry into the Christmas planning game. 

I also really like to let each holiday shine-without being overshadowed by the next.  We have a fun Thanksgiving tradition of making a Thanksgiving List and I cherish each year's list more than I can say.  Some years, it's a competition between my kids to see who can write the most.  Other years, they are reflective and genuine.  But, every year is a treasure.  Only after we have celebrated Thanksgiving can we head into Advent and Christmas. 

So, to get ready for next year, I have sent my future self some reminders (in my outlook calendar which also synchs with my iPod-love that technology) for things that I want to finish early so that my Thanksgiving to Christmas will be a little smoother.  I set reminders for:
  • some projects that I didn't get finished-like the yarn ball wreath and the felted sweater bags.  I put these on September so maybe they will be done by Christmas
  • Christmas photo of kids (and maybe us, too!) that needs to be done early so my cards can go out a little earlier than this year
  • gift card buying.  I think next year, I will spread this out so that it doesn't pack such a big punch all at once.  We have lots of "grown-up" kids that get gift cards or money so I can do them early and just stash them away
  • Gingerbread houses-I already bought 8 of them on clearance and they are ready to go for next year. 
I also did something I have seen around on other blogs, which is give each of my kids their own ornament box.  This, I hope will eliminate some of the craziness that can happen when we are decorating the tree.  It can be especially tough for my youngest to wait for his ornaments and, being the youngest, he has the least.   The very best thing about this idea for me is this:

Okay, it looks creepy, I agree.  But that angel in the plastic box has been the subject of much, heated discussion between my kids every year.  They argue a little, whine a little and then each try separately to convince us that it's indeed their turn to put her at the top of the tree.  Now, with the angel tucked safely away in my oldest daughter's ornament box, we shouldn't have any problem next year (in theory). 

Now, I just have to finish putting it all away-I already miss the glow of the lights.

Friday, December 31, 2010

goodbye 2010

This year has been, well a year.  It always seems to simple and trite at the end of the year to sum up what's happened and make goals for the new year to come.  But, it's human nature, I suppose and I am one of those list-makers, goal-setters kind of people.  So, I will look back and then forward, knowing that I don't really know what this year will bring any more than I knew how 2010 would shake out. 

Whatever your resolutions for the New Year, thank you for reading my blog-even when I am sporadic or post too many pictures of my dining room.  Thanks for your wonderful encouragment and delicious compliments on my cooking, baking and decorating.  I wish you all good things in 2011 and beyond and hope that you will keep stopping by to see what's going on in my corner of the world. 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Oreo Truffles Recipe and tips

I've had several people email and ask me for the recipe for the Oreo Truffles, and a lot of people visit that page on my blog, so I though I would just put all the information here for easy, holiday baking access.  The recipe is really so simple that it's almost not a recipe.  Also, some people refer to them as Oreo "balls" but I think truffles makes them sound tastier and maybe like they took longer to make than they actually do. 

The first time I made them I did so under the misguided theory that because I don't really like Oreos, I wouldn't be tempted to eat these little chocolate covered bits of goodness.  Rarely have I ever been quite so wrong.  These taste amazing-and have the richest texture and they are cute to top it all off. 

Here's how to make them:

1pkg Oreos crushed (don't use crumbs-actually crush the cookies)
1  8 oz pkg cream cheese
Chocolate for melting and covering the truffles

Mix the cream cheese into the crushed Oreos.  I generally use the smallest size Pampered Chef scoop and scoop out as many little round truffles as I can, shape them and stick them in the fridge to chill.  Don't rush to coat them in the chocolate because the colder they are when you start dipping, the easier the whole process will go. 

I use the Wilton brand candy melts for white and color and the Baker's semi-sweet for Chocolate.  The ones I really love to make (and eat) are the Golden Oreos covered in semi-sweet chocolate. 

Another tip, from one of my best friends, is when you are melting the chocolate, add a tablespoon of vegetable shortening to the chocolate-it make is smoother to dip and shinier when it's cooled off. 

These little sweeties are all dressed up for Christmast in their red ribbons.  You can add sprinkles, non-pareils, sparkling sugars, whatever you want to make them look festive and even more delicious than they already do!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Getting in the Christmas Spirit with Hooked on Houses

Well, I missed the first blog-link-party-extravaganza that Julia at my all time favorite blog, Hooked on Houses,  hosted.  In an attempt not to skip holidays, I don't put up any Christmas decorations until after Thanksgiving, but that often means I am not finished (or satisfied with what I've done) until well into December.  The room that holds most of my Christmas goodies is the dining room because, well really, it's the most finished room in the house.  Here's a shot of my china cabinet with my small collection of dishes (all different)

Last year, I had that garland (which I got for cheap at Target from Smith and Hawken) on my dining room light, but this year, we added an advent wreath to the table and the combination of low hanging garland and tall taper advent candles seemed to be less than advisable.  Here's how the table and the light look:

I had big plans to get this runner all cute-d up for Christmas with felt snowflakes, but sadly, my idea didn't quite work out the way I planned.  For now, the felt runner is lonely without the boost of the white snowflakes, so we will see what happens.  My refurbished sideboard is making its first Christmas appearance and looks pretty spiffy draped in red and serving as home to my cute peppermint candy tree. 

Remember how icky that used to be?  I do-you can check out the before in this post
Of course, nothing in this house would be complete without a little bit of Lego fun, so here is a new addition to my decor, the Lego Advent Calendar. 

Let me tell you, this little piece of Danish ingenuity was well worth the price.  My first grader has been up and dressed for school in record time since his opening the Lego piece is contingent on being ready for school.  Brilliant, I tell you!

I am participating in Julia's Link Party-go see more by clicking on this button!


Monday, December 06, 2010

Christmas Card 2010

Oh Holy Night Religious Christmas 5x7 folded card
Make a statement with Shutterfly Christmas photo cards.
View the entire collection of cards.

Welcome December

If you are like me, you may have missed November completely-it seems like I just turned the calendar to the month that contains Thanksgiving and now all of a sudden it's the one that holds Christmas!  EEEEK!!  We spent the first December weekend doing appropriately Christmas-y things like church, forcing our kids to stand out in the cold and have their once-a-year-so-you'd-better-smile-or-we-will-be-out-here-all-day pictures (better known as the Christmas card photo. 

This year, we revisited a place we had enjoyed several years (and one kid) ago for the taking of the photos-the PAGODA which is really cool looking and completely out of place in Eastern Pennsylvania.  It's also just cool and a little scary if you are afraid of heights or the combination of your adventurous 6 year old and 87 steps and a steep, rocky incline.  But, it is cool:

We also went to another favorite spot of mine, Glicks Greenhouses for their annual Poinsettia show, which the kids loved and I loved, too:

We hung the lights, watched The Santa Clause and baked cookies.  All in all a perfect Christmas weekend, but now it's back to reality December Monday, which includes more running around, laundry (doesn't every day?) and a bunch of stuff I would rather not do-but pretty soon it will be Christmas weekend again!  I have to get my dining room in order so I can show it off-the only problem with using the dining room for all our meals is that it generally looks like we eat all our meals there! 

Happy December Monday!

Monday, November 29, 2010

yummmmm..... nutella cookies

As I mentioned in the last post, I have a lot of butter in my house right now.  That can be dangerous, I know, but it also makes whipping up a batch of cookies pretty simple and painless (unless you count the calories-but at Christmas that just seems cruel).  So, when I saw this blog party linked on one of my favorite blogs (Anything Pretty) I knew just the cookie I wanted to share. 

My kids LOVE Nutella and they come by it honestly.  We always have it in the house and my kids actually prefer it to peanut butter when it comes to lunchbox sandwiches.  Many of their friends have been confused over the years by their "chocolate sandwiches" and many more have been converted to Nutella fans after having lunch at our house.  But, back to the cookies.  I found this recipe several years ago, on the Food Network-it was actually for Halloween but we love them anytime and especially at Christmas. 

Here's how they looked last Christmas after we piped some snowflakes onto them and added those sweet little round sprinkles:

You can find the original recipe here:  Giada's Hazelnut Chocolate Smoochies  I have made a few changes and don't usually use the kisses because we like the cookie in its natural state. 


1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup chocolate hazelnut spread (recommended: Nutella)

1/2 cup butter, softened (1 stick)

1/2 cup sugar

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup orange sprinkles, or orange sugar

1 (9-ounce) package of chocolate candy kisses, unwrapped (recommended: Hershey's)


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In another medium bowl, place the chocolate hazelnut spread, butter, and both sugars. Using a hand mixer, cream the ingredients together, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and blend until incorporated. Stir in the dry ingredients, just until incorporated.

Shape the cookie dough into walnut-sized balls. Rolls the balls in the orange sprinkles or orange sugar, pressing to adhere. Place the cookies on a heavy cookie sheet about 4 inches apart. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove the cookies from the oven. Quickly place a chocolate kiss in the middle of each cookie. Return the cookies to the oven and bake for another 3 minutes. Cool the cookies on a wire rack.

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