Christmas has Come.

Today we celebrated our first Christmas; with sweetie’s two daughter’s and his oldest’s boyfriend. We spent most of last evening and this morning chopping, preheating, cutting, washing dishes, icing, glazing, baking, mixing, washing dishes, stirring… (the dishwasher is running yet again as I type; not to mention all the dishes we washed by hand).  My sweetie does not cook, but he takes direction well, and he’s good at sticking with it until the job is done. Together, we made this lovely brunch, and the Christmas cookies and candy:


A fruit compote (pineapple, bananas, strawberries, and apples)

Chocolate Dipped Fruit kebabs

Pecan Swirl Cinnamon Rolls

Sausage and Apple Quiche

Dark Chocolate Sugar Cookies

Saltine Toffee

Christmas Wreaths (Holly Crackles)

I ate entirely too much — but it was all so good.  Incidentally, should you decide to make that Dark Chocolate Cookie recipe, I recommend using your own common sense when it comes to cutting them out and baking them.  Martha Stewart must be on crack if she thinks anyone in the real world (read: anyone without a sizeable staff) has that kind of time to devote to one damn batch of cookies.  Read the recipe, you’ll understand what I mean.  I didn’t spend any of that time freezing rolled out dough, I don’t possess parchment paper, and my cookies turned out great.

Sweetie’s youngest loves to bake (and is GREAT at it); she brought a large tray of cookies to add to mine.  I don’t even want to admit how few of those cookies are left on the plates this evening. His eldest brought a gift basket of flavored popcorn, chocolate dipped pretzels, cookies she baked, and some wonderful smelling William-Sonoma hot cocoa. I’m going to need to fast for a few days after the festivities are over…

We gave each of the kids a stocking full of goodies, exchanged a few goodies and lots of conversation; the afternoon was gone before we knew it.

The youngest gave us a “Box of Dates”; to be opened one at a time, any time we decide we need a “date night”.  Some are marked for “winter”, “spring”, etc., and others are marked “anytime”.  Clever gift, huh?  It’s kind of fun to think we get to draw Christmas out by having delayed gratification of one of our gifts…

Box of Dates

Winter arrived this week, as well.  With a vengeance, I might add… Wednesday and Thursday, we got hit hard with a true, honest-to-goodness blizzard.  Trees and wires were felled under the weight of the snow and ice, highways were closed for much of Thursday, and travel was almost non-existant.  The result was roughly a foot of snow, and on Friday, some beautiful sights…

White Christmas

Tomorrow is a celebration with my side of the family, more eating, conversation and laughter.  It also happens to be the due date for grandbaby girl (our first grandchild).  She doesn’t seem to be in a big hurry to join us, but you never know… we’re hoping we get to meet her sometime this week!

A Very Merry Christmas to you and yours…



I stole this post.

True story.  I stole this post from my brother’s blog without asking him for permission.  Sorry, Ted.  (I’m not really that sorry).

Family Night… or day.

(written by my little brother, Ted)

Greetings and salutations!  Going back a little more than 7.5 years now, we decided early on when Robby was a baby, that we would have an open invite to family members, once a month where we would cook up some good (hopefully!) kibble and just enjoy each other’s company.  That way, Robby grows up with a good support cast around him and knowing the family from the immediate surrounding area.

As time has gone on, we’ve missed a few months, but for the most part, we’ve been pretty consistent.  We’ve also added a few “traditions”, if you will.

That brings us to the subject of this post. It’s December 2012, and we’re decorating gingerbread houses.

This time, the boys picked who they wanted to be partnered up with.  Robby and Aunt Doris (I got picked FIRST for a team!  First time EVER!!!) were a team, as were Samuel and Aunt Molly, Caleb and Aunt Dianne, and last but not least, Jonah with his Aunt Lesley.  Not one boy picked his Mom!

A shot of the troops at work, getting dirty and having fun.
Molly, Sammy, Robby, and Me….

Team Lesley/Jonah modeling their creation; ]onah with a mouthfull of candy.

Team Molly/Samuel.  Sam, unlike his brother, could show teeth in his photo.
Team Dianne/Caleb with their house o’ candy.  Caleb hopped up on sugar.
And team Doris/Robby with their crafty craft (note the rainbow doorway!).
After the gingerbread houses were done, we had lunch, then decorated cutout sugar cookies.
3 of the lads at work.
The Four Horsemen pose with their creations.
…and again, just to relieve a little sugar pressure.  And thus wraps up another family night!

I posted about last year’s Gingerbread House day here, which was in November, and before my brother, his wife, and Robby travelled to China in December 2011 to adopt Caleb.  See how well he fits into the family already?!?

Merry Christmas!



Really Random: the 3 R’s

The blog got very quiet when November arrived, did you notice?  November is the month I dread, because at work it is my most challenging and stress-inducing month, and incidentally, seems to be the  l o n g e s t.  At the end of the day I am fairly well spent, and have little time for sewing or socializing, much less blogging about any of it.  Today is the 15th, it’s half over.  Praise the Lord!

I’ve been doing some Pinterest cooking (you know, pinning recipes) and then making them by reading them on the iPad on the kitchen counter. Would you like to see what I’ve made and know how I rated it?

  • I made this Spaghetti with Creamy Butternut Leek Parmesan Sauce.  I’d give it 3 stars; delicious, but mine didn’t look anything like her’s, and the leftovers weren’t fabulous.  A recipe has to provide GREAT tasting leftovers to get 5 stars from me.
  • These I made and enjoyed for days following.  5 stars fabulous.
  • I’m a comfort food junky during times in my life, like “November”, and when the temps start to dip.  One of my faves from childhood?  Grilled cheese and tomato soup. This recipe got another 5 stars.  But sadly, I will never be hired as a food stylist…  Agreed?
  • Gina’s Filipino Adobo Pulled Pork in the slow cooker gets 4.5 stars.  Even my sweetie raved about this one (it’s not that he doesn’t like my cooking, it’s that I am more adventurous with “healthy eating” than he cares to be…) 😉
  • And he gave the No Sugar Sloppy Joe’s 5 stars, I gave them a 3.5 because I wasn’t crazy about the BBQ sauce I used.  Will try this again and tweak it, ’cause Kelly does write some great recipes, and I love the low-no sugar ideas she comes up with.

I also made pumpkin pie from scratch this weekend, as in, I baked two sugar pumpkins and everything.  Followed this recipe for the most part.  It was fabulous, at least 6 stars tasty.  It is, of course, long gone.

I have a bunch of pumpkin stuff pinned, that I am hoping to try next week.  Well, Pumpkin is one of my comfort foods, too, y’know.

Tomorrow I am heading to retreat.  I am over-the-moon THANKFUL for the vacation day from work and looking forward to hours and hours of sewing time…

Hoping to finish up this quilt top:

btw, go see Stephanie, she finished her Urban Nine Patch quilt top (those 3 awesome blocks on the left) — a  really cool quilt…

And go see Cindy, where I’m linking up today, for Really Random Thursday.

Live A Colorful Life


Some college friends and I try to get together monthly for a Girl’s Night Out.  This month there were only three of us, and our night fell on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, so we stayed in, and had a pie-making night. 

We made TWO pumpkin pies with pre-made roll out dough, and the recipe from the Libby’s Canned Pumpkin label… I had a helper when mixing my pumpkin pie:

The baked Pumpkin Pie looks so much better than the “raw stuff”–and it tasted even better!

and we made FOUR oatmeal pies with “from-scratch” crust (recipes for both Oatmeal Pie and our Pie Crust, below)  What?!  You’ve never had Oatmeal Pie?  Tastes a lot like Pecan Pie… and the recipe was adapted by my best friend after trying Oatmeal Pie at a restaurant, Mondo’s.  It also doesn’t look so good before baking:

..but after?  Yummmmm….

Recipe for Pie Crust:
3 C flour
1 C Crisco
1 tsp salt
1 egg, beaten
5 Tbsp Ice Water
1 tsp vinegar
Work Crisco into the flour with pastry cutter or knife/forks.  Add remaining ingredients, mix well with fork.  Divide in two and roll out.  Makes two 9-inch pie crusts.
Recipe for Oatmeal Pie:
3 eggs
1 C Sugar
1 dash salt
1 C Dark Karo Syrup
1 C oatmeal
8 Tblsp margarine, melted
unbaked Pie Crust
Mix all ingredients together, pour into unbaked pie shell, and bake for 60 minutes at 350 degrees(f). 
Delish.  It is best served with Blue Bunny brand Cinnamon Ice Cream (only available at the holidays!) and, yes, Blue Bunny brand is the best!
I’m getting excited to decorate for Christmas… at last week’s Des Moines Modern Quilt Guild meeting, I received these fun towels and picture frame from Marny in our Holiday Swap.  Just my kind of Christmas colors, bright, with pink and lime green included! 
Marny provided a simple tutorial for making these towels (using 5″ Charm squares!!) on her blog, Modern Quilt Relish.  Thanks, Marny, I really, really, like them!

One BIG bag

I finished this bag last night, and I’m working on a tutorial for the blog on how to make one.  It’s intended to serve as an oversize tote for carrying things to guild meetings or retreats, like show-and-tell quilts, your cutting mat, supplies, etc.  It’s HUGE.  The bottom insert measures 9″ x 24″, and the sides are approximately 12″ high.  I used a stripe from Kate Spain’s Central Park for the lining, and the exterior is an upholstery weight fabric from Hancock Fabrics.   I added the pocket to the outside to hold a pen/pencil and notebook/iPad/cell phone.

Tutorial coming soon. 

I also finished up my Modern Quilt Guild Habitat Challenge quilt this week, the big reveal is at tomorrow’s meeting, so just a sneak peek today:

Oh, and that chocolate cake?  Made for a co-workers birthday, with the best chocolate frosting recipe (from the Chocolate Cake Mix Doctor Cookbook) and made healthier by substituting plain Greek yogurt for the oil, eggs, and water.  Seriously.  It works.  …and it tastes fabulous.  (I’ve used the applesauce substitute before, and the Diet Coke substitute.  This is better.)

Happy sewing,

Summer Greek Salad

Another summer recipe…  This is a new one, I adapted from a magazine recipe.  It was EXCELLENT, even the next day as leftovers.

Chunky Chickpea Greek Salad

1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/4 C scallions, thinly sliced
15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
10 Kalamata olives, pitted and sliced
Sweet vinegar & Olive Oil dressing
Feta cheese

Combine first five ingredients in medium size bowl.  Add chickpeas and olives, and 2-3 Tbsp of Hendrickson’s Sweet Vinegar & Olive Oil dressing (or a handmade vinaigrette dressing of your choice).  Sprinkle with feta cheese for garnish, and serve:

Hendrickson’s is my dressing of choice, it’s preservative and gluten free, fat free and low in calories.  But most of all, it’s delicious!  This is the same dressing I use on the quinoa recipe that I shared last week.  You can find it in most major supermarkets:

Do you have any favorite summer recipes in your house?