Saturday, December 31, 2011

Christmas snapshots

{Christmas Eve Dinner at Shogun}
{Bath time at the grandparents'}
{More presents}
{Allie & Paul}
{Frying up some taters for a beans and cornbread dinner}
{visiting with out-of-state family}

Friday, December 30, 2011

Project Post 16: Bay Leaf Wreaths

Apparently there are a lot of negative opinions about getting married at Christmas time (which we heard over and over 4 years ago when we tied the knot), but in my opinion, I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate an anniversary. On our Pottery Barn wedding registry (circa 2007), we had several of their Bay Leaf Wreaths and Garlands - which they only offer at the Holidays (perk!), but I use them for decorations year-round (there is nothing Christmas about them - they are just a great form of greenery). They carry these pretty much every year - although they have different versions of them. Here is this year's version of the garland:

{Found here, via Pottery Barn}

Some friends gave us a few of the strands of garland for a wedding gift, and with gift cards (also wedding gifts), I purchased two Bay Leaf Wreaths and a couple more strands of the garland (at a huge after-Christmas discount too!). I've used the wreaths ever since - and I pull the garland out every once in a while and stick it somewhere, sometimes at Christmas. The wreaths are easy for me - I LOVE wreaths and I will put one anywhere (see pictures below), but I struggle a little with the garland.

{One of the Bay Leaf wreaths I already had - it currently lives on my pantry door}

{The other wreath - it lives above my kitchen buffet/hutch}
Well, as of tonight, problem solved. Three strands of my garland have become brand new (repurposed) beautiful Bay Leaf mini wreaths. All it took was a trio of grapevine wreath forms (the 8" ones that are about $1.99 each), some floral wire, and a lot of "fluffing" and turning of leaves. I will probably hang them as a horizontal trio somewhere (I'll add pics when I do). Each strand of garland fit perfectly around the wreath two times.

{Bay Leaf Garland}

{grapevine forms}
{The finished product!}
{UPDATE: Here is where the wreaths live now - they might camp out
for a while and they might get moved again, you never know}

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Cran-Pistachio Sugar Cookies

Our church hosts a Cookie Exchange Party before Christmas every year, and it is really a fun idea. I know most people know what that is, but for those who don't, I will explain. You make three dozen of the same type of cookie and bring them to the party on a platter. One dozen of them are taken and put out on the buffet line (dinner/snack foods are served at the party, along with all the different cookies to test), and the other two dozen are put out on display (for the voting, later). While you eat and mingle, you are suppose to test the cookies, and vote on your favorites - there are several categories, like Best Use of Holiday Color, Best Use of Chocolate, Best All Around, etc. When you leave, you get to pack up two dozen cookies of your choice to take home, and after all the recipes are typed up, you get a cookie recipe book that has every cookie from the party in it.

I had pinned a few "easy" cookies on a Pinterest board, because I wasn't sure I was going to be able to go and wanted to have something easy to whip up in case I was left baking at the last minute, which I was :) Here are the easy (and festive!) cookies I whipped up:

Cran-Pistachio Sugar Cookies (from here)

1 pouch Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix
1 box pistachio instant pudding and pie filling mix
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs
1 cup dry roasted salted pistachio nuts, chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries, chopped

In a large bowl stir cookie mix, pudding, and flour. Add melted butter and eggs and stir until incorporated.
Add pistachios and cranberries and mix well. Drop rounded spoonfuls onto a parchment lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes and do not over bake.

The author suggested adding green food coloring and I tried this for a batch I made for a Christmas gathering - and I do not suggest it. The subtle green color that the pistachio pudding gives the cookies is enough in my opinion; the food coloring just makes them look cheesy.

{Cookie table at the party}

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Breakfast In a Muffin

I saw this recipe on this blog a couple of months ago and put up a mental red flag to make them in the future. Well folks, the future was last night. We had breakfast-for-dinner night, and to break up the usual spread of high cholesterol and a side of grease and sodium, I decided to throw together these easy egg muffins.

1 lb. ground sausage
8 large eggs
1/4 milk
shredded cheese
salt & pepper

*Plus any additional toppings you wish to add (bacon, red bell pepper, green pepper, onion, spinach, broccoli, etc.)

Brown sausage (and onion/pepper if you added them) and drain. Divide it up evenly in a (sprayed) muffin tin. Whisk together eggs, milk, S&P. Pour egg mixture over sausage in each hole. Add cheese/additional toppings (I did bacon because we evidently live life on the edge when it comes to heart disease). Pop them in the oven for 15 min. at 375 degrees.

So easy. So great. The leftovers are a really good breakfast in the morning.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Giveaway Winner & Weekend Fun

Thank you to everyone who entered the giveaway! If you were not able to comment and entered via Facebook (several people contacted me through FB who couldn't get their comments to go through on the blog), don't worry - I got your entries:)
The winner is entry #6 - which is RYAN!!! Congratulations Ryan! I will contact you through Facebook to get your info :)

We had a great weekend full of Christmas fun. Thursday night was our Sunday School Christmas party, Friday night we ate out and took Levi through the Garden of Lights to see the Christmas lights, Saturday we had a dress rehearsal for our Christmas musical (I was in the musical and Tyler ran the sound for it) and then got a babysitter and went on a date, and then Sunday was the church musical, which was amazing!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Gift Guide

I love picking out gifts for people - a few people asked me for help this year picking out gifts for a special girl in their life, and I had a lot of fun thinking of things to share with them.

This guide wouldn't necessarily "fit in" with my gift list (I will do a "budget" gift guide next!) because in my family, we stay with $50-or-less gifts, but for someone whose budget for a certain gift is a little higher, this has some great options.
Gift Guide
1. Cashmere Cardigan - J.Crew has these year-round. I got one (in a brick-red color) for Christmas a few years ago from Tyler's family, and it's still one of my favorite pieces ever (timeless), and may get a hall-of-fame post on the blog someday :)
2. Polka dot blouson dress - this one is also from J.Crew, but keep in mind it is only a suggestion:) It's a great shape for a lot of body types and a very versatile dress! (& this one is on sale right now)
3. Polka dot clutch - I saw this here and have loved it ever since. It's good-quality leather and a really fun print.
4. Pave link bracelet - just because I think it's beautiful :) - a great gift.
5. Leopard calf-hair flats - this version is $250, but you can get almost the exact same ones here for $79 (they look different online but in real life they look almost identical)
6. Gold sequin top - obviously this particular top is a little pricey at $400, but a similar one that's not a budget-breaker would be a great, fun gift!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

A Whole Year

I already mentioned how much I look forward to our Christmas cards each year. I was looking for a picture through my "picture archives" a few days ago and ran across our card from last year, and what a difference a year makes! This time has flown by at an outrageous speed, but what a sweet time it was! It will be fun to look back on this card each year with itty bitty one-month-old Levi - and when I look at myself I just see TIRED, and Tyler pretty much looks exactly the same :)

I forgot we liked the "Joy" theme last year too. :)
{Images courtesy of Amy Dale Photography}

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Baglady {Giveaway}

Nestled in the beautiful Ozark Mountains in the great city of Springfield, Missouri, is a fabulous little shop called Baglady Boutique (Find them on their website, Facebook, Twitter, & blog). Here's a brief description of the Baglady experience, taken from their Facebook Fan Page:

"Located at 1111 E Republic Rd in Springfield, MO, the Baglady has traveled the world to find fun, unique, and funky gifts for all occasions! We strive to be the best girlfriend gift shop in town. Anything from trendy jewelry to home d├ęcor, the Bagladys will help you find that perfect gift! So grab your girlfriends and come shop!"


Take a look around their shop, and you'll see why this fun shop is a must-see next time you pass through the area!

{Head Bags Ginny, Chelsea, and shop companion, Daffy}

The Bagladys sent over a couple of items from two of their best-selling lines - a personalized self-inking address stamp from Three Designing Women and a Thymes "Sink Set" (Hand Wash, Hand Lotion, caddy) in Frasier Fir scent - both gifts are PERFECT for the holiday season.

One happy reader will win both of these great gifts (an $80 value)! Find out how to enter to win below!

To enter:

1. Become a "Follower" of Embellishments - via Google Friend Connect or your Facebook account, both on the right side of this blog (Click the "Join this Site" or "Follow this blog" button to follow)

2. Leave a comment on this post telling me you became a follower (if you are already a follower, just leave any comment)

3. For a bonus entry, "Like" Embellishment's page on Facebook here - and leave a SECOND comment telling me you did

The giveaway closes Saturday, December 17 at 11:59pm. The winner will be chosen at random and announced on Monday, December 19. Your prize will be promptly mailed to you in time for Christmas :) Check back on Monday to see if it's YOU!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Peanut Butter Push Cookies

I got this idea from here, and she got it from here. Neither gals gave these cookies a name, so I took the liberty to create a name for them myself.

2 ingredients for these babies (plus you'll need a mini-muffin tin instead of a regular baking sheet):
1. Peanut butter cookie dough (ready-made if you want)
2. Reese's miniature cups

Spray your mini-muffin tin with cooking spray. Plop your cookie dough in each hole. A regular package of dough (either the tube kind or the break-apart kind) will fill 24 mini-muffin holes.
Put them in the oven according to package instructions, and remove 5 minutes earlier than instructions say.
While they are baking, unwrap your Reese's miniature cups (or do it ahead of time). When you take the cookies out, immediately push (hence the name) a Reese's cup into each cookie. As they cool, the Reese's cups will melt into the cookie nicely.

That's it!

{Mine are a little rough around the edges because I didn't spray tin with cooking spray - Oops!}
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