Posted by John on December 2nd, 2013
It’s that time of the year again around here. Lisa is digging through our Christmas decor bins and dressing up the house. While holiday decor isn’t really my thing, I do enjoy laughing at some of our older ornaments as we pull them out of the bins. It’s a fun tradition.
Since we could use a break from the whole cabinet construction thing, we’re going to do something fun this holiday season. We’re kicking off an Instagram Christmas Ornament Hashtag Party. Here’s the theme: Weird or Funny Christmas Ornaments.
If you’re not sure what that is, there’s nothing wrong with you. I promise. It’s Captain Kathryn Janeway from the TV series Star Trek Voyager. My folks bought it for me back in Christmas of 1998. Why I’ve kept it this long is the real question here.
So here’s how this Instagram party will work. Take an instagram photo (or Twitter) of the weirdest, oddest or funniest Christmas ornament you own. Use the hashtag #WeirdestOrnament2013 or #FunniestOrnament2013 when you post it. You can also post it on our Facebook wall.
In a week or so, I’ll share the photos in a post. Let’s keep it lighthearted and safe for work, if you know what I mean. Okay? Cool, have fun.
Posted by John on December 18th, 2012
Hey guys! Christmas is nearly upon us and I haven’t bought a single gift yet. This is pretty much par for the course with me though. I’m always a late shopper. Although, not like Christmas Eve late, just Week Before Christmas kinda late. I’ve got a lot of shopping to do. One thing we were able to knock out though was our Christmas mantel. Lisa didn’t change up too much from last year, at least I don’t think she did.
The stockings are hung by our gas fireplace with care, in hopes that they don’t spontaneously combust. The larger white stockings are new for us this year. Last year we had a couple smaller blue ones. This year we’re going back to the full-sized adult Christmas stockings.
The stockings are hanging from these chrome weights…
and we’re marking the stockings with the initials of our first name (except for the dog, but his stocking will be loaded with treats so he won’t mind).
As far as our fireplace goes, we don’t use it that much. It’s completely automatic though, which is pretty sweet. We have a switch on the wall right next to it that turns it off and on. When I was a kid, my parents had a real wood burning fireplace and it was amazing… until I had to clean it. Then it was a giant PIA. Oh, and we got a bat in there once or twice. Yeah, loads of fun. So this automatic version is awesome.
We keep our daughter and dog away from it with a simple metal guard that folds up and can be repositioned.
So now I have to go out and buy small gifts to stuff in these.
Are you done your shopping and decorating or do you still have some left to do?
Posted by Lisa on December 13th, 2012
Every year I make Christmas cookies with my mom. We’ve been making them together since I was a little kid with my grandmom. Since we’ve been married, I’ve also been putting together a cookie tray for John to take to his office Christmas party. We always make certain traditional Italian cookies and every year try out one or two new cookie recipes. Here’s what we baked up this year…
1. Peanut Butter Blossoms. These are peanut butter cookies that are rolled into a ball, then rolled in suger, baked and while hot out of the oven, they are pressed down with a Hershey kiss. This isn’t a family recipe or anything. You can see the actual recipe on Hershey’s website.
2. Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies. These are a thin, buttery, crispy, chocolate chip cookies that are my “go-to” chocolate chip cookies. Most chocolate chip cookie recipes I’ve seen make thicker, chewier cookies. That’s fine if you like that, but I really like this crispy version. The recipe is Martha Stewart’s daughter’s and can be found here. This recipe makes 30 4-inch cookies, which are HUGE. I typically halve the recipe and make smaller sized cookies, say 2 or 3 inches in diameter.
3. Crescent Cookies. This is a traditional Italian cookie that my grandmother taught my mom to make way back in the day. She has been making them ever since. They are made with Pecans and are rolled in powdered sugar. Enuff said. Nom nom. I’m not sharing this recipe. Sorry!! Ancient family secret. I’m sure you can find something delicious online.
4. Spritzer Cookies. These are a cookie that was made by my grandmother. They are a lovely, light, buttery cookie that are decorated with sprinkles. You’ll need a cookie press and various dies to make these. We always use the wreath and the Christmas tree and this year we tried the snowflake shape.
5. Raspberry Filled Linzer Sandwich Cookies. This is a new cookie we made this year and it’s delicious! The only drawback is the recipe doesn’t make a lot of cookies. We used the Wilton recipe that came with the Linzer cookie set. If you don’t bake regularly, these cookies may be more challenging. They also take a lot of time. It’s hard because you have to roll the dough out really thin, which makes transferring the dough to your cookie pan hard without cracking them. They’re definitely worth the effort though! Here’s a tip: Refrigerate them overnight for an even better taste.
6. Raspberry and Apricot Filled Thumbprint Cookies. These are my favorite Christmas cookies of all time. Period. It’s not Christmas without me inhaling 2 dozen of these little gems. Once again, this is a family recipe, so I’m not sharing. There are plenty of thumbprint cookie recipes floating out there. They can be filled with just about any type of jam or dried fruit, but my personal favorite is seeded raspberry preserves dusted with confectioners’ sugar. Ridic.
7. Sugar Cookies. These are basic sugar cookies that are rolled out and cut with Christmas themed cookie cutters. They are what we’ll be leaving out for Santa and Rudolph on Christmas Eve. Any basic sugar cookie recipe will probably do fine.
So, this may be my favorite Christmas tradition and I’m still making some yet. If I do, I’ll share those as well.
What are your Christmas culinary traditions? Do you bake something every year or do you cook?
Posted by John on December 11th, 2012
Finishing a new home seems to be a continuous series of baby steps. There have been major “ah-ha” moments, like when we finished the shed or the dining room wainscoting, but for the most part, our DIY projects have been minor in scope and fairly frequent. Our to-do list never seems to end. One of my pet peeves after having lived in our current home for a couple years now is the lack of general decor. We keep it simple. There are still a handful of rooms in the house that literally haven’t been “improved” upon since we moved in, including our master bedroom and bath (more on those very soon). Nothing on the walls, no paint yet, zip, nada. Since Lisa is in charge of what goes on the walls (she picks it, I hang it), I’ve been bugging her to come up with some more decor and interest for our spaces. This week she bought a couple floating shelves from Target. Big fan.
Even bigger fan of the hardware that came with it. I have a love/hate relationship with molly bolts… no, it’s mostly hate. I hate them. Molly bolts that come with most commercial items are almost always a crappy plastic piece that a.) spin in the drywall and never fasten down b.) refuse to accept the screws that came with them c.) pull right out of the drywall even after you’ve gotten them “right.” /end rant.
These shelves came with my favorite type of drywall fastener, the white oversized screw type (see below). You just push on them until they pierce the wall and then you just screw them down tight.
I’m also a big fan of how the shelves attach to the wall. They have a two piece metal bracket. I also fully endorse Ikea’s floating shelf brackets, same basic concept.
Once the bracket is mounted, the shelf just clips onto it.
They’ve got a sweet coved edge on three sides. We’re showing the photo above to give you an idea of how far they stick out from the wall. Not too bad.
With both shelves mounted, you can see how they add some needed Christmas cheer to our wall. We actually had to think about how far “in” the top shelf needed to be. Too close to the wall edge and a tall person could accidentally walk right into it.
It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye walking into a Target floating shelf. How many times have we heard that childhood tale?
That’s our tinsel reindeer. You’re going to be seeing a lot of him. We throw him into nearly all of our Christmas photos. He’s got a 3 year, 12 post contract. He’s pretty much the Charleston Heston of tinsel reindeer. He’s kind of a big deal around here.
How are you adding interest to your spaces?
Posted in DIY Projects,Holiday,Home Decor. Tagged in ,christmas, decor, Decorating, floating shelves, shelves
Posted by John on December 9th, 2012
So our busy schedule as of late should start to slow down some soon. I’m really looking forward to having the next several weeks off (from class)! Going to get a ton of stuff done around here including a WordPress Theme upgrade! We’re going to try to DIY it, so stay tuned. More importantly, we found some time to do some holiday decorating. Our Christmas trees are up!
This is the second or third year in a row that we’ve had an artificial tree as our main Christmas tree. It’s a nice quality pre-lit tree, which makes decorating it and taking it down loads easier. We stick with the artificial tree because of little paws and little hands. We had a real tree for the first couple years we were married. The first year we had the real tree AND Finegan, he tried to drink the tree water every chance he got. SO, add a baby to that equation and we’re going to be rocking the artificial tree for the foreseeable future. Lisa and I both grew up with real trees. You can’t beat a real tree. Love the smell and the whole picking one out experience. Looking forward to the days when we can do that again.
So, I mentioned trees, as in plural. We keep a small narrow tree in our living room so it’s visible from the road.
We have a couple personalized ornaments we’ve gotten over the years on this smaller tree.
Our main Christmas tree, which will be the one we keep our presents under and sit around on Christmas morning is in our family room.
If you look close, you may notice that only half of the tree has ornaments! There’s a good reason for that…
Yep, that’s right. We have a toddler that
likes loves to rip the ornaments right off the branches. Lisa was smart about her ornament choices though and went with shatter proof plastic globes. That way there’s no possibility any glass ends up in pieces on the floor.
We have our mantel started, but not quite ready for prime time. More Christmas decor posts coming your way soon!
So if you celebrate Christmas, do you go for the real tree experience or do you opt for the fake??