Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Guest Blogger: Handmade Photo Card with Annie

Today's guest blogger is my sister in law, Annie. All of my sisters in law are super talented and have a lot of creativity. Annie has a lot of different things she's talented in, and one of the reasons I like this project is because she is able to combine a couple of them together. It's always a pleasure to get one of her beautiful cards in the mail. The fact that it's handmade make them that more meaningful. 

This tutorial is perfect for this holiday season (or any occasion). I always just buy my cards for the most part, so this is a good thing for me to try to start doing. Plus, it's simple and easy to do, but let's the receiver know that you care. I hope everyone has a wonderful and merry Christmas!

Hi everyone! It's a pleasure to be here as a guest blogger :).  

Joyce asked me if I'd consider writing a guest post at the end of the summer.  I just happened to be working on something at the time, so I documented it with photos.  I apologize that it's not holiday themed being the first of December, but this project could definitely be adapted for the holidays. 

Admittedly, I only make cards a couple times of the year, and I make eight to ten of each so that I have some extras lying around when I need to send a quick note.  I keep my cards pretty simple, but it's always nicer to have something homemade.

I also love photography.  As pretty flowers are particularly photogenic, I always end up having tons of great shots of flowers without anything to do with them.  This year I started combining my card making with photography to use some of my favorite shots.  

Here's a little tutorial for the latest batch of birthday cards I made. Your could easily turn these into something holiday appropriate by using a seasonal picture like pine cones, icicles, or even your family's photo. 

Supplies you'll need:

Blank card (size is up to you) in cardstock
1 piece of patterned paper trimmed to fit the width of your card
1 small bow tied from your ribbon
Coordinating piece of cardstock trimmed slightly larger than photo
Birthday (or whatever greeting you choose), printed on cardstock, cut into approxinately 1.25 inch round
Hot glue gun

I created some birthday tags in Adobe Illustrator, but you could also do something similar with MS Word or other program.  Once the tags are printed I use an Exacto knife around a circle template to get them the right size.

Wrap ribbon around patterned paper and tape (or glue) so that it wraps the length of the paper in the center. 

Tape (or glue) patterned paper with ribbon to card. 

Glue photo to border paper and center (or not) on card, and glue.
Here you could also use some foam tape, or dots to give the card some dimension.

Using a hot glue gun I glue the tag down, then the bow on top of that. 

It'll look like this when the ribbon's down.

Voila! You have your own personal photo card, easy peasy.
I also like to use a pigment pad to ad some color/a weathered look on the edges of the card.

Happy crafting!

Sneak Peek: Jed's 25 days til Christmas Gift

I have been finding so many things I want to make for Christmas gifts this year, I'm so excited. I won't be able to actually post it here until after Christmas though, because some of them are for people who actually read my blog and that'd ruin the surprise haha. I decided to show off one of the gifts I'm doing for Jed though. He never reads this so I don't have to worry about him finding out what it is, plusthis gift starts on the first so he'll figure it out tomorrow. :)

I won't have it up until tomorrow but I thought I would post what it is and where I got it from, just in case you want to do it anytime. The thing I love about this is that I get to do something for him. My husband is so amazing and I think this is a fun way to show him my appreciation. He always gets upset with me because I always buy stuff for him and never leave enough in our budget for him to get me anything. I don't mind it either, the fun part of Christmas is that I get to buy other people stuff. This year since we have to buy things for the house we put a $30 limit for each person's gifts this year. When I saw this idea from the Dating Divas, I thought it would be perfect since it's super budget friendly plus it's personal and thoughtful.

(side note: if you're married and like affordable but creative date ideas check out The Dating Divas, Love Actually , and Texas Is For Lovers.)

 I took two ideas and combined them.
  The one from the Dating Divas: they had an envelope for each day til the event and filled them with sweet letters from the spouse, family and friends or coupons.

and the other one is from : she had an envelope for each month filled with a pre planned (and prepaid) date for that month

For Jed's I have an envelope for each day til Christmas and I have them filled with letters from me, pictures from the kids, separate outings for him to go on with Chloe and Elijah, coupons for me to do chores he'd prefer to get out of doing and the rest of them are filled with different dates for each month for us to go on. I didn't include gift cards for them like she did, that just wouldn't fit in our set budget, but this is perfect for us  since we just moved it's fun seeing what's around us. Plus, we sometimes get into a dating rut doing the same thing, so this makes sure we do something new and different each month. I also like themed nights so most of the ideas will most likely turn into themed date nights.

Anyways, I thought I would share. I'll try to post about this again later after he opened them up. Hopefully, he'll like it! :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

DIY Frame Art

Since we moved, I've been busy unpacking and also feeling like my house is really bare. There is just so many more walls (and rooms and footage) in this house compared to our apartment. Also, since we just moved and had to buy beds for everyone and some furniture plus replace all of our food, decorating my bare walls is on the low priority list of our budget.

I did however convince Jed to let me spend $15 for each room right now. I've been looking around for ideas and finally came up with this:

And it was less than $15!

You can tell I did it myself, but I'm happy with it. This is my frame art for our library. I have some other things to do to finish the room, but I was really excited that this turned out.

I first got the idea for empty frames from my friend, Summer. She had some extra frames and she just put them up and I thought it was really cute. I went to the Dollar Store and picked out some frames and bought some blue paint for $2 and painted them. I got the jars for the vases for $0.50 each and had the flowers (in the Spring and Summer I'll use real flowers). You can check out Cupcakes and Cashmere blog for the floating vase tutorial. I'm still deciding whether or not to keep the jars exposed (Jed thinks it adds character) or wrapping them in ribbon.

Well, anyways that's my affordable diy project. :)

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pummple Pie Cupcakes

Sorry if people are getting tired of all of the recipes lately. Right now I'm in limbo with my projects since we're moving this weekend. To make up for it, that and in fall all I want to do is bake and warm up the house, I've been experimenting with some baking ideas. One of them is this pummple pie recipe.

You might be asking yourself "what the heck is pummple?" Well, it's pumpkin and apple together. I thought of this last year and have been obsessed with the concept since then. I really wanted to make it for Thanksgiving last year but everyone was a little hesitant about it so I stuck with our traditional pumpkin pie. I do love the pumpkin pie because it's all fresh ingredients and it calls for fresh pumpkin puree. It's takes a little bit more time but it really is worth it, especially if you like pumpkin pie. You'll be getting that recipe down below so don't worry :) Last year I made up a recipe for a caramel apple pie with a sugar cookie pie crust and it was also one of my favorite new recipes. So for this pummple pie recipe I just combined both pies. Of course I'm not the only person that genius struck with this pie combo, and I'll be experimenting with it in some other ways, but this might be my favorite pie. Obviously, you don't have to make these into cupcakes (okay cupcake shaped since, as Jed points out, there is no cake in this), it's just what I did.

Sorry, there aren't any pictures, I wasn't planning on sharing this yet but since I've had requests for the recipe I thought I would, plus these went fast and the last one was eaten before I had the thought to actually take a picture of it. I'll just have to make these again to later update this with a picture :) This was also just me experimenting, so I want everyone to know this is my rough draft and I might not have exact amounts for everything. I'm a little in love with these right now though and everyone I had sample them gave positive reviews for them. Jed even took some to work and one of the guys said he doesn't normally like pumpkin pie or apple pie but he couldn't stop eating this. Another guy said that he really liked it and liked that it tasted really fresh. Jed, of course, said this is now one of his favorites too. So I hope you like these as well. If you do make these leave me a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks!

Makes 24 cupcakes:
Line cupcake pan with liners. Spray inside of cupcake liners with baking spray so these won't stick. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
If you do choose to go all out and make the pumpkin puree yourself, do that first (see instructions below)

Crust: (found on allrecipes)
1/2 egg
3 tablespoons white sugar
1 pinch salt
1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c cold butter, cut into pieces

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 
In a small bowl, mix egg and sugar together. In a separate bowl, combine salt and flour. Cut in butter. Stir in egg mixture, then knead dough into a smooth ball. Keep refrigerated for 15 minutes. (during the 15 minutes start on apple filling) Roll dough to 1/8 " thickness. (best way to do this is roll it out between sheets of wax paper)
For cupcakes: cut out 24 circles to match the bottom of cupcake liners. This is optional but I think it was good, I used small decorative cookie cutters to cut out 24 shapes for the tops too and sprinkled them with sugar.
For pie: roll out and place in pie pan; prick edges with a fork and cover edges with foil so they don't burn
set aside

Caramel Apple Filling:

caramel sauce: (my mother in law's recipe)
1 c brown sugar
2/3 c light corn syrup
2 tablespoons butter
2/3 c evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

In a medium saucepan boil together the sugar, corn syrup, and butter until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Add milk and vanilla. Stir well.

5 large granny smith apples; peeled, cored and chopped
1 oz. water
2 teaspoons corn starch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
caramel sauce to coat

In a small cup dissolve cornstarch in water. In a pan over medium heat, saute apples with caramel sauce (not all the sauce just enough to coat apples with), cinnamon and cornstarch mixture until the apples are tender. Take off heat. Let cool for 10 minutes. Spoon apple filling into prepared cupcake/pie pans until about 1/2 full. Set aside.

Pumpkin Pie Filling: (adapted from Busy Cooks/
(This is my fresh pumpkin pie recipe, for the cupcakes I cheated and just used canned pumpkin puree)

1 medium sugar pumpkin (or 2 cups canned pumpkin puree)
1 tablespoon veg. oil
1/2 teaspoon each ground ginger, cloves, nutmeg and salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
4 eggs, beaten
1 c honey, warmed
1/2 c milk (I used eggnog this time)
1/2 c whipping cream

To make the fresh pumpkin puree: preheat oven to 325 degrees F . Cut pumpkin in half and remove seeds. Lightly oil the cut surface of the pumpkin halves, and place cut side down on a cookie sheet that has been lined with foil and lightly oiled. Bake until the flesh is tender when pierced with a fork. Let stand until cook enough to be handled. Scrape pumpkin flesh from the peel and puree in a blender or food processor

In a large bowl, blend together 2 cups pumpkin puree, spices and salt. Beat in eggs, honey, milk and cream.

Pour filling over the top of apple filling until almost to the top of cupcake liner/pie pan. 

Okay, here's what I'm not exactly sure about... the bake time. I started at 20 minutes but they still weren't done so I think I put on another 10 minutes. Bake until toothpick inserted comes clean or until the pie springs back. If you do add the pie crust cutouts on top add those half way through baking (about 15 minutes). If you're doing this in good old fashion pie form this is the time to take off the foil from around the edges too. 

Now, here's the hard part: You HAVE to let them cool! If you're like me and really excited to try it-you must stop yourself! Let them cool before taking them out of the cupcake pans otherwise the sides get smashed and they won't be as pretty and the paper will come off of them. But after you let them cool, add a dollop of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and enjoy!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Guest Blogger: Tips For A Classy Holiday with Raelyn

Hi Everyone! I hope you all had a fun Halloween! Since Halloween kicks off the holiday season I thought it would be nice to get some tips of how to get through all the crazy shopping, parties and even with "homemade" gifts.  I asked my friend, Raelyn, to help with this because she is such a classy person I knew she would be the perfect person to help with this. I hope you all have a safe, fun and classy holiday season!

            Hello all you classy people!  You know who you are because classy people just know that they’re classy and don’t need to be told.  Everything we do radiates class, it should come naturally. Due to her being so classy, Joyce asked me (a fellow classy person) to educate the masses on how to be classy during the holidays.  We all know that this time of year is stressful and busy- which makes it more important to keep our classy standards high.   
Before I delve further into how to make this a successfully classy holiday, I thought I would tell a little about myself, because as all classy people know it’s always about us.  I am 25 years-old and currently reside in California, where I met the supremely classy Joyce Berhold.  Doesn’t that sound like a pizza?  I’ll have a large supremely classy pizza with extra class please!  Which anyone with class knows that in classy language that simply translates to a large Hawaiian pizza with extra pineapple.  If you didn’t know that then I hate to be the one to break the bad news but… you may not be as classy as you thought you were.  Anywho, to get back to me.  I have been a resident of California for a little over a year but was born in this great classy state.  I was born to two classy people, who gave birth to three classy daughters.  I am the youngest and firmly believe that I got the most class out of the three of us.  I was born a couple months early so I think the trick to having a highly classy child is too under bake a little.  This is my first time guest blogging and I was a little reluctant to toot my own horn on how classy I am, but lets face it… classy people love to toot their own horn.  So here we go!  Toot!  Toot!

Classy 101

Holiday Parties
‘Tis the season for family and friend get togethers.  Of course you’ll feel obligated to go, (even if it’s your second cousin twice removed, or the husband’s boss) though deep down inside you would rather snuggle up in front of the TV and watch all the classy shows i.e. Jersey Shore and Hoarders.  First of all, I just want you to know that you are not alone and I will help you through this difficult situation and will help you maintain the class status quo.   With this easy guide you’ll be in and out of unclassy parties and still maintain your self-class. 

Step One: 
Show up to the party fashionably/classily late.  Use your own class meter and judge how much time that is.  For me I would say normally five to ten minutes late, just long enough for the awkward beginning conversation to be over and the food to be placed out.  
Step Two: 
Find the host and/or hostess and thank them for the invite and tell them that the place looks great.  Compliment the spouse of the host and tell them you have been looking forward to this party for a long time. Side Note now would be the perfect time to start coughing periodically during the conversation see below. After the appropriate amount of  small talk, beeline it to your other friends and talk about how horrible the food tastes and how you didn’t want to even come to party but felt obligated to. Remember: never talk about the host/hostess or their spouse to their faces, always behind their backs!!
Step Three:
Circulate around the room and make small talk with more guests, making sure to keep your coughing up.  After a good amount of time, make the excuse that you can’t seem to stop coughing and quickly make an exit.  If you feel so inclined you could be much more dramatic i.e. sneezing, vomiting, fainting and always include your spouse into the plan.  You don’t want to end up with a confused spouse who doesn’t know what’s going on and blow your classy ruse.

* Because there are so many parties during the holidays the guest list may overlap, so remember to pick a new ailment with each one. 

Black Friday Shopping
This is a test of any classy persons class.  It's difficult to get up at 2am the morning after stuffing yourself full the previous day, and get into a line for the good shopping deals.  The benefits though of stuffing yourself is that you wont need to stop and eat breakfast for a while and can shop until your classy legs can’t take it anymore.  For those who need to eat regularly, don’t panic.  I will include a tip on how to get through those long lines and long day of shopping classily.    
Step One:
After you climb out of bed before the sun has even peeked its head over the mountains, make sure you put on the most classy of outfits.  Pants with a stretchy waist band, a hoodie, some Uggs or slippers, and a hat to cover those ears from the cold.  The pants with a stretchy waist band is very important since most of us will still have bloated bellies from the night before.  Trust me, you don’t want to be caught in a line full of people and have the buttons of your pants explode off.  I’m afraid if this happens then someone has to revoke your classy card and privileges.  And you will have become *gasp* normal!  Make sure to make up some Ziploc baggies of Turkey dinner leftovers and stick those in your pockets for later when/if you get hungry.      
Step Two:
Make sure you go with back up.  The waiting line to get into Target can and has often mimicked the movie West Side Story.  Minus the singing and dancing, though that early in the morning ya never know.  Invite a couple of your classy girlfriends to go with you (make sure you assign one to bring the hot cocoa).  This tactic will come in handy when anyone tries to butt in line, they wont mess with a girl who has her classy posse with her.  I would also recommend making matching shirts or jackets. 
Step Three:
Get in, get out, stay classy.  Divide and conquer.  Send one girlfriend towards the electronics, another towards the clothes, and you can go towards the toys.  There’s always that hot ticket item every season and you want to make sure you get one.  You may not know what it is but you must get it!  All of us have had a certain situation happen to us that I think we as classy people need to be more proactive about.  Having our said hot ticket item taken out right from under our noses.  Well, incase you didn’t know about the classy way of dealing with this, I am about to enlighten you.
*Warning* This step is only to be used in extreme classy emergencies!
Emergency Step
If someone gets to your hot ticket item before you, follow these 3 simple steps.
Step one: Grab the item out of their hand
Step two: Kick them in the shins
Step three (and the most important): RUN!     

I have only one last bit of classy advice to impart with you.  I hope that you all have taken notes and learned how you can make your holidays just that much more classy.  For this step I have included some pictures so you can make sure to properly follow each classy step to a T.  If you become confused in anyway just start back with step one, and it will eventually lead you to step two. 

Delivering Holiday Cookies
I think my favorite part about the holidays is the baking.  Actually, scratch that.  I think my favorite part of the holidays is eating other peoples baking.  If you’re like me then there is virtually no time to making several batches of holiday cookies for all those whom you care for.  There’s not just enough hours in a day for one to bake cookies from scratch and maintain ones classyness (yes, classy people make up words).  So here are the step by step instructions on how to save time and yet still achieve the same results as if you baked them yourself.  

Go to your local store.  I chose Target but you can really choose any store that sells cookies. 

Next, choose some cookies that can look as if you baked them at home.  In other words- don't choose any Keebler Elf ones or the sugar cookies with the frosting on top.  I chose Nestle Tollhouse ones. 

When you get home, cover a cookie sheet in aluminum foil and place the cookies evenly spaced on the cookie sheet. Warm your oven to 250 F 
Place the cookie sheet on the middle rack and let them warm for about 6 to 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and transfer to a plate.  They will be warm and gooey and make your home smell like you worked very hard at making homemade cookies.  Only we know the secret though- so shhhh!  Class is the word! 
If you're really classy you'll eat one just to make sure they're not poisonous or disgusting.  It would be a crime against all things classy if the cookies were gross tasting, so you must eat at least one!  And if you're super duper classy, have a wine glass full of chocolate milk, or regular milk, your choice! 

There you go my classy friends. Follow these simple guidelines and your holidays will always be classy!  Spread your wings and soar on the your air pocket of class!  For now I bid you all auvoire (classy people pretend to speak French), and in the words of my good,classtastic friend Ron Burgandy... "Stay classy, San Diego".