According to Kelly blog has moved!

You will be automatically redirected to the new address. If that does not occur, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Monday, December 31, 2007

happy new year.

may your life
be crowded with
(h. jackson brown jr.)

image via flickr.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

it's all about the element of surprise.

these may look like ordinary cookies (although, i think they look pretty fancy with all that chocolate icing going on).but, other than that, they really do look like plain-jane, "normal" cookies. wouldn't you agree? that is, until you take a bite & then "surprise", there's a snickers inside! and let me tell you what a delightful surprise this is. someone baked us up a batch this holiday season & i couldn't stop eating them. i'm thinking i might have to bake me up a batch tomorrow... it's still the "holiday season", i can continue filling my belly to my little heart's content! i can work eating more healthy next week.

peanut butter surprise
2 sticks butter (softened)
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup sugar
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour (sifted)
2 eggs
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bag snickers miniatures
1 bag dove brand milk or dark chocolate (or any other melting chocolate will do)

1. combine the butter, peanut butter & sugars using a mixer on a medium to low speed until light and fluffy.
2. slowly add the eggs and vanilla until thoroughly combined. then mix in the flour, salt & baking soda.
3. cover and chill dough for 2-3 hours.
3. unwrap all of the snickers miniatures (make sure to eat one or two, that's my favorite paft of baking... taste testing)
4. remove dough from refrigerator. divide into 1-tablespoon pieces & flatten.
place a snickers miniature piece in the center of each piece of dough.
5. form each piece of dough into a ball around the snickers miniatures piece.
6. place on a greased cookie sheet & bake at 325 degrees for 10-12 minutes. (baking time and temperature may need to be adjusted if using more than 1 tablespoon of dough per cookie.)
7. let cookies cool on baking rack or wax paper.
8. "spruce up" your cookies by drizzling melted dove brand promises milk or dark chocolate over the top of each cookie!

Friday, December 28, 2007

here comes trouble.

i've pretty much gotten used to how much havoc two little boys can cause. but when you add my niece to the mix, you definitely have a handful. those three, sweet & innocent looking children, had lots & lots of fun together. in the past week they've managed to: with a little "team effort" they open the fridge door & empty out all the condiments; escape into the backyard running through the "safety" of the sprinklers to jump on the trampoline, in 50 degree weather; open the front door & escape down the street with all three dogs in tow; unwrap every present they saw (prior to christmas of course!)... and those are just the memorable happenings. these three will definitely keep you on your toes, i can't wait to see what they come up with next!

keep their little tootsies warm.

our family has a christmas eve tradition. it's nothing unique, i'm sure many people of the same tradition, or at least some variation of it. anyway, every year on christmas eve, santa pays our house an extra special, early visit. i don't know how he finds the time in his busy schedule, but he always manages to drop by to deliver a few gifts. it's never a surprise, because we always get pajamas. but it's always fun to see what santa has picked out for us that year. my boys were especially thrilled to find THESE cute slippers in their packages from santa. (gavin got the sharks & little o got the lizards.) they made the oprah o list so you know they've gotta be good!

Monday, December 24, 2007

santa's prayer.

the sleigh was all packed, the reindeer were fed,
but santa still knelt by the side of the bed.

"dear father," he prayed "be with me tonight.
there's much work to do and my schedule is tight.

i must jump in my sleigh and streak through the sky,
knowing full well that a reindeer can't fly.

i will visit each household before the first light,
i'll cover the world and all in one night.

with sleigh bells a-ringing, i'll land on each roof,
amid the soft clatter of each little hoof.

to get in the house is the difficult part,
so I'll slide down the chimney of each child's heart.

my sack will hold toys to grant all their wishes.
the supply will be endless like the loaves and the fishes.

i will fill all the stockings and not leave a track.
i'll eat every cookie that is left for my snack.

i can do all these things lord, only through you,
i just need your blessing, then it's easy to do.

all this is to honor the birth of the one,
that was sent to redeem us, your most holy son.

so to all of my friends, least your glory I rob,
please Lord, remind them who gave me this job."

by warren d. jennings

have a holly jolly christmas.

it's the best time of the year
i don't know if there'll be snow,
but have a cup of cheer.
have a holly, jolly christmas;
and when you walk down the street
say hello to friends you know
and everyone you meet.

oh, ho, the mistletoe
hung where you can see;
somebody waits for you;
kiss her (him) once for me.
have a holly jolly christmas,
and in case you didn't hear,
oh by golly, have a holly,
jolly christmas this year.

the giving tree.

okay, so it's not your typical christmas story. but it's one of all time favorites. & as i was readding it to the boys last night i realized that this story truly encompasses what the entire christmas season is all about - giving part, if not all of ourselves, to others. the whole "reason for the season" is to celebrate the greatest gift of all - the birth of christ.

for god so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, thatwhosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (john 3:16)
read the story of the giving tree HERE, or buy it HERE.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

the white envelope.

reading THIS true story has inspired me in so many ways, i don't think i can possibly put my feelings into words. the story's message is so incredibly pure and simple... it truly represents what the christmas season is all about. it's a tale of a young family's christmas tradition involving "a small, white envelope stuck among the branches of our christmas tree. no name, no identification, no inscription." instead of giving "the usual shirts, sweaters, ties" this family has made it a tradition to do some random act of service for someone else, in honor of the recipient. they then write up what they did, place it in a white envelope & give it to their recipient as their gift. after reading their beautiful story, i have felt such an urge to follow suit. i hope after reading THIS you too will be inspired to start your own white envelope tradition this christmas. find out more about the author, her family & the white envelope project HERE.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

m&m christmas poem.

as you hold these candies
in your hand,
and turn them,
you will see.
the M becomes a W,
an E, and then a 3.
they tell the christmas story,
it's one i'm sure you know.
it took place in a stable.
a long, long, time ago.
the E is for the east,
where the star shone so bright.
the M is for the manger,
where baby jesus slept that night.
the 3 is for the wise men,
bearing gifts, they say they came.
W is for worship, hallelujah, praise his name.
so as you eat these candies,
or share them with a friend.
remember the meaning of christmas,
it's a love story that never ends.

* this one is always a winner with the little munchkins! fill a cute jar with m&ms, or a cellophane bag & attach the poem... another perfect gift for friends and neighbors. who doesn't love m&ms?

why eat the candy, when you can bake with it?

for some reason or another, i bought a couple of bags of those starlight mints. (at one point i think i thought of decorating with them. and then i remembered i had a 2-year old, who would do just about anything to eat candy... which would probably include climbing on counter tops or moving a chair over to a mantle.) so, they're still sitting in the grocery bag in my cupboard. but maybe i'll put them to good use in these peppermint-topped brownies. i don't know how they taste (i assume yummy!) but they sure are pretty to look at. go HERE for the recipe.

Friday, December 21, 2007

christmas nails.

it's Christmas time at our house
and we're putting up the tree.
i wish i could find some simple way
to remember christ's gift to me.
some little sign or symbol
to show friends stopping by,
the little babe was born one day
but he really came to die.
some symbol of his nail-pierced hands,
the blood he shed for you and me.
what if I hung a simple nail
on my shining christmas tree?
a crimson bow tied round the nail
as his blood flowed down so free,
so save each person from their sin
and redeem us for eternity.
i know it was his love for us
that held him to the tree,
but when I see this simple nail
i know he died for me.

- Author Unknown

* another gift idea... this poem packaged with masonry nails that have had red bows tied around them.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

put those leftover candy canes to good use.

8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 ounces unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup finely crushed hard peppermint candies
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
Additional coarsely crushed hard peppermint candies, divided
1/2 cup powdered sugar (optional)
2 1/2 teaspoons milk (optional)
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate morsels, melted (optional)

combine first 3 ingredients in a large saucepan; cook over low heat until chocolate melts and mixture is smooth, stirring occasionally. remove from heat, and stir in 1/2 cup crushed peppermint and 6 Tbsp. sugar. let cool 30 minutes.

add eggs to melted chocolate, 1 at a time, stirring well. stir in extracts.

combine flour, baking powder, and salt; add to chocolate mixture, stirring until combined. stir in chocolate morsels. cover and chill dough 2 hours or until firm enough to shape.

shape dough into 1 1/2" balls; place on parchment paper-lined baking sheets. bake at 325° for 12 to 13 minutes or until cookies are puffed and cracked on top. sprinkle coarsely crushed peppermints onto cookies; press candy lightly into cookies. let cookies cool 5 minutes on baking sheets. transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

whisk together powdered sugar and milk; drizzle over cooled cookies, if desired. drizzle with melted chocolate, if desired. sprinkle cookies again with chopped peppermint, if desired. let cookies stand until glaze and chocolate are firm.

yield: 2 1/2 dozen

image & recipe via sunset

still need a holiday centerpiece?

why not whip up this festive one... the bonus, you (or the kids) can eat it when the holidays are over! for the super easy directions go HERE.

the christmas orange.

all this talk about oranges has reminded me of another favorite story... the christmas orange. it's such a sweet reminder of what the true meaning of christmas is all about. (wrap the story up with some oranges & it's perfect for gifting!)

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

clove-studded oranges.

who didn't make these as a kid. i remember looking forward to this project in school, it always made the classroom smell oh so good!

* oranges
* cloves
* ribbon
* toothpicks

press cloves into oranges in a decorative pattern. push ribbon through top of orange with toothpick. Loop, tie and hang, or display in a dish.

why christmas trees aren't perfect...

another favorite we like to read around the holidays is why christmas trees aren't perfect. it's a cute story about a young christmas tree who sacrifices his "beauty" and "perfect shape" to provide shelter to the animals of the forest. in the end, to the shock & amazement of all the other trees the queen chooses our young tree to reign in honor as the kingdom's christmas tree. in turn, teaching & reminding everyone that perfection is not important, but rather living for the sake of others makes us most beautiful in the eyes of God. read the complete story HERE, or buy it HERE.

rudolph the red-nosed reindeer.

okay, i lied. this guy's nose isn't red at all, it's actually purple. oh well... he still is dang cute! and i definitely can't take credit for this little guy at all. i actually stole him from a friend, who got him as a gift. but i couldn't resist. it was such a great idea... perfect for the kiddos to make. our little reindeer friend consists of a chocolate bar, wrapped in kraft paper (or you could recycle those paper grocery bags), a few pipe cleaner antlers, a pom pom nose & a little ribbon. (although i might add a pair of wiggly eyes - i've always loved them. especially as a kid, when i would stick them up my nose, or was it my ears? i forget the story.) anyways, you get it all packaged up & ta da! you got yourself a reindeer or two. perfect for gifting to friends, family, neighbors... basically, just about anyone. & i can guarantee the little ones will get a kick out of making them.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

teach the children the true meaning of christmas.

just a week before christmas i had a visitor. this is how it happened...

i had just finished the household chores for the night and was preparing to go to bed, when I heard a noise in the front of the house. i opened the door to the front room and to my surprise, santa himself stepped out from behind the christmas tree. He placed his finger over his mouth so I would not cry out. "what are you doing?" i started to ask. the words choked up in my throat, and i saw he had tears in his eyes. his usual jolly manner was gone. gone was the eager, boisterous character we all know. he then answered me with a simple statement. "TEACH THE CHILDREN!" i was puzzled; what did he mean? he anticipated my question, and with one quick movement pulled a miniature toy bag from behind the tree. as I stood puzzled, santa said, "teach the children! teach them the old meaning of christmas. The meaning that now-a-days christmas has forgotten."

santa then reached in his bag and pulled out a FIR TREE and placed it in front of the fire place. "teach the children that the pure green color of the stately fir tree remains green all year round, representing the everlasting hope of mankind, all the needles point heavenward, making it a symbol of man's thoughts turning toward heaven."

he again reached into his bag and pulled out a brilliant STAR. "teach the children that the star was the heavenly sign of promises long ago. god promised a savior for the world, and the star was the sign of fulfillment of His promise."

he then reached into his bag and pulled out a strand of CHRISTMAS LIGHTS. "teach the children that the lights symbolize that christ is the light of the world, and when we see this great light we are reminded of jesus who fills our lives with light."

once again he reached into his bag and removed a WREATH and placed it on the tree. "teach the children that the wreath symbolizes the real nature of love. real love never ceases, like god's love which has no beginning or end."

He then pulled from his bag an ornament of HIMSELF. "teach the children that I, santa clause symbolise the generosity and kindness we feel during the month of december."

He then brought out a cluster of HOLLY BERRIES. "teach the children that the holly plant represents immortality. it represents the crown of thorns worn by our saviour. the red holly represents the blood shed by Him."

Next he pulled from his bag a GIFT and said, "teach the children that god so loved the world that he gave us his only son... thanks be to god for his unspeakable gift. teach the children that the wise men bowed before the holy babe and presented him with gold, frankincense and myrrh. we should always give gifts in the same spirit of the wise men."

santa then reached into his bag and pulled out a CANDY CANE and hung it on the tree. "teach the children that the sugar cane represents the shepherd's crook. the crook on the staff helps to bring back lost sheep to the flock."

he reached in again and pulled out an ANGEL. "teach the children that it was the angels that announced the glorious news of the savior's birth. the angels sang 'glory to god in the highest, on earth peace and good will toward men."

suddenly, I heard a soft twinkling sound, and from his bag he pulled out a BELL. "teach the children that as the lost sheep are found by the sound of the bell, it should ring to guide us to god. the bell symbolises guidance and return. it reminds us that we are all precious in the eyes of god."

santa looked back and was pleased. i saw the twinkle in his eyes as he said: "remember, teach the children the true meaning of christmas and do not put me in the center, for I am but an humble servant of the one that is, and I bow down to worship him, our lord, our god."

* i look forward to reading & sharing this story each year. i like to use a small tree & ornaments depicting each of the symbols. (i've also given it as a gift - wrapping up the tree, ornaments & story together.) enjoy! if it isn't already, i hope it becomes a favorite tradition for you as well.

Monday, December 17, 2007

the tale of the three trees.

one of my favorite christmas traditions is reading the tale of the three trees. it's a beautiful story about three trees that grow up to be jesus' manger, boat & cross. read it HERE, or buy it HERE.

you might think i'm lying,

but it actually gets cold in california during the winter. yep! believe it or not, i'm wearing a sweatshirt & our heater is on as we speak. thus, i felt it was high time to share some of my favorite winter accessories with you. first on the list... fingerless gloves, i'm a total fan. i love the elbow length pairs, they are perfect for 3/4 length t-shirts, short-sleeved jackets, or just about anything. and the bright stripes are perfect for me... they add a bit "pizazz" to my generally boring t-shirt & jean combo. these ones are cute too! but, if you prefer fingers on your gloves, try these. next we have the all-important hat. you can never have too many. that's why i want this one, and this one, this one, and this one too! and finally, the staple that no girl (or woman) should be without... a pashmina. they are so versatile, seriously! they fold up to basically nothing, so you can store it easily in a purse. it can be a wrap (or blanket), but i prefer to wear it as a scarf. all these fun accessories definitely help make going out in the cold a little more bearable.

image via flickr.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

ridiculously easy.

seriously, anyone can make these blankets. no sewing experience or "crafty genes" needed. all you need is a couple of hours & some fleece (which just happens to be 50% off at joann's right now), & you've got yourself a blanket. perfect for gifting away, although there's nothing wrong with hording it for yourself! i made several of these a couple years ago for christmas & they were huge hits, i promise! if you like, you can even get fancy... use the "minky" like fabric they sell at joann's for one of the sides. so if you're looking for a slightly last minute gift, or have someone who already "has everything" on your list, make them a blanket. there's absolutely no sewing invovled. (how can you beat that?) they are so easy, you'll want to make more. for directions, go HERE.

Friday, December 14, 2007

maybe i'll learn to knit over the holidays...

that way i can make some cute little slippers for all the babies i know. (& then i can whip up my own stockings!) until then, i guess i'll just have to buy them HERE. the toys & finger puppets are also adorable.

the black hole of christmas.

so, i'm trying to be "on the ball" & get all the presents wrapped. for the most part, i've tried to wrap them as i've purchased them, so i don't have a huge pile to do at once... however one or two have slipped by. so, this morning i've been playing catch-up. unfortunately, i've realized that several presents i've bought have disappeared into the black hole of christmas. i've searched high & low, in every spot i can think of, but they are nowhere to be found! am i the only person this happens too? puh-lease! someone out there tell me that the black hole has gobbled up their presents too... i don't want to be the only one affected!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

winter, spring, summer & fall...

it doesn't matter what season it is, i LOVE hot chocolate. before i had kids, when i was working full time, i used to stop every morning at 7-eleven for my morning dose, i had the "recipe" down... i knew exactly how much of each of the syrups & flavored creamers to add. although i'm "home" now, & the local "sev" is exactly local, i still need to get my "fix". most of the time i make my hot chocolate in big batches from scratch. (my mom taught me to pour the leftovers into a clean, but used, plastic milk jug. that way it stores easy in the fridge & is perfectly suited for pouring into cups!) however lately, i've been using store bought mixes (although i do substitute milk for the water the package calls for, in order to make it rich & creamy) & my newest indulgence... a hot chocolate maker. i know, i know, it sounds totally silly. but, if your a hot chocolate connoisseur, like myself, then you'll appreciate the fact that it heats, mixes & froths, all with the push of a button. in fact, it makes it so incredibly frothy that you almost don't need to add whipped cream, notice i did say almost. mmm! i think i'll go make a cup right now.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

how much is that doggie in the window?

so, the original purpose of these little critters is to keep out the cold. but who's to say that's all you could use them for? with a few easy changes (maybe fill them with batting instead of rice), & viola! you've got a toy. they are easy enough that the kids could help make them for friends or cousins, or make them yourself, to stuff into their stockings! (i just might have to make one of the stripey snakes, i think my boys would get a kick out of him.) instructions can be found HERE.

if i were a better aunt...

& i didn't already have a zillion things i'd love to make for my niece for christmas, i'd whip her up one of these family alphabet books. although, seeing that i'm not super great at scrapbooking & making it all cute-sy, i'd probably use something like shutterfly to make it look professional. this would be perfect for her though, seeing as they live so dang far away... it would definitely help her remember who we all are. although, i might have to get creative with a few of the letters (i have no idea what i would put for x, for example).

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

deck the halls...

so i have all these pictures of the kids with santa, from years past. (mostly because ana brandt does these incredible santa sessions every year!) anyway, i was tired of having all the photos pile up in the drawer & i decided i definitely needed to do something with them. at halloween, i just displayed all the old halloween-ey pictures on a magnet board in my kitchen... boring! so this time around i knew i wanted to do something a bit more decorative with them. that's when i remembered that my cousins whit & abby had just mod podged some cute frames. perfect! so i ran down to the craft store (actually, i pretty much make daily trips, so it wasn't much of an imposition), bought some frames, scrapbook paper, wood stain, & mod podge and i was set. i followed the directions on the jar & ended up with a whole slew of frames. i had a lot of fun slopping glue & roughing them up to make them more "vintage" looking. here are some of my favorites... (click on the picture to enlarge)

Monday, December 10, 2007

i guess gavin was hungry.

because this is what jeff found when he went downstairs this afternoon. gavin must have been wanting "cookies chocolate" as he calls them. the tub of cookie dough is now stored on the top shelf of the refrigerator. we'll see if that stops him.

moving on to the next thing on the list.

the boutiques is over (exhale huge sigh of relief). & now i'm on to the next thing on my extremely long list of to-dos. the priority right now is just cleaning up the the bomb that has gone off in my house. it's days like this that i dream of having a full-time maid, cook, butler... you know the whole gamut. the house is an absolute disaster. my kids now think a home cooked meal is something i have heated up in the microwave & i have a pile of laundry so high that you could probably climb it & reach the moon. (but in my defense, at least the clothes are clean just waiting to be folded.)

next on the list is just catching up on work. that's one of the great evils of working from home... sometimes you can just put stuff off indefinitely. & suddenly, like everything else in life, there is so much for you to get done you don't even want to think about it. but, i better get going before the big bosses call me up and utter that dreaded phrase "kelly... this just isn't working out for us."

then last but not least, that little thing called christmas. although, i am proud to report that pretty much everything has been bought & wrapped. i do have a couple of people still to buy for (mostly just my mom. she's a tough cookie, because she pretty much buys whatever she wants. so, the trick is trying to find something that i know she'll love, but hasn't ever thought of herself, which is very hard & i'm usually totally unsuccessful at. lucky for me, but not for her, her dogs ate her sunglasses.... so maybe i'll just go into replacement mode. boring, but safe.) also, somewhere on that ever growing christmas to-do list, is my christmas card. (if anyone wants to be on the list, be sure to email me your address!) i can't honestly say i haven't thought about it, because i have, i just haven't done anything about it. i'm being ambitious, & i think i'm going to make it myself in photoshop, which is kinda funny, because i don't really know how to use photoshop, i've just done little things here & there (so any advice is greatly appreciated). but, for some reason i just think i can do it. (i'll just have to keep repeating that do myself... i think i can! i think i can!) anyway, like always, i'm totally rambling, which in effect is helping me from avoiding the things i really need to do. so i better run. wish me luck! hopefully i can get my life under control (ha! ha! ha! is that even possible?)

Friday, December 7, 2007

hope to see you there!

nemo found.

two weeks ago we were in mexico. while we were there gavin was a bit of a baby when it came to the pool. which came as a total surprise, because he used to love to swim. we've had him in swim lessons since he turned 2 this past year & he's done awesome. when we were in hawaii, last spring, he would jump in the pool & immediately flip to his back & float just to get a reaction out of everyone standing around the pool. so you imagine my shock to see him timid in the water. although, i must admit, while most parents see summertime as the perfect opportunity for swim lesson, i choose to take the boys out for the summer. i knew the pool would be crazy & we would be gone for a good chunk of the summer, so we quit. & me, being the not-so-on-the-ball mom that i am, never quite got them re-enrolled. but after mexico, i decided it was a necessity, & re-enrolled both boys in swim lessons the week we got home. so, here is video of gavin's swim lesson today... this is definitely not the kid i took to mexico. suddenly, gavin thinks he's nemo!

Thursday, December 6, 2007

have you seen this?

in years past i've seen many cars with wreaths attached, on occasion i've even seen a few cars with christmas lights strung up, but today was a first for me... a car "dressed up" as a reindeer. now, this gives new meaning to the phrase "holiday spirit"! get yours HERE.

something new...

is in the shop. it's something special... created originally as a custom order, they were too cute not to share! a little shin-ey, a whole lot of jingle jangle & a little pearl tucked in here & there. check out the new bracelets HERE!

if, or rather when, i have a little girl...

i would love to have THIS precious little print hanging on her wall. however, if she's a "pink princess", which i suspect she will be, simply because i'm not, then THIS one might be a better choice. & if we lived somewhere "chilly", i'd probably hang THIS one as well. (but when you live in sunny california, it just seems silly to have a picture of snow on your wall. but, i guess i could always send out the cards.) don't you just love what you can find on etsy?

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

it's a wrap.

so i'm not a "wrapper", no big deal. although, if i could have a set-up like this ONE i just might exchange my bags for lots of pretty rolls. but i definitely don't have that kind of extra space these days (space is a bit of a precious commodity here in our house). so making a gift wrap holder might be a better solution for me. family fun had instructions for THIS handy holder in this months magazine. (just click on picture to enlarge it).

other handy tips:

  • to keep your ribbon from tangling, store it in a sugar dispenser (one of those big glass ones with the silver tops that you always see in restaurants) & pull the ends through the opening in the lid. or you could always just buy THIS one.
  • learn to tie a perfect bow HERE.
  • and for anyone like me, who struggles with just the basics, here is a general HOW-TO.

not looking forward to...

wrapping all the presents prettily, before placing them under the tree. it's no secret that i'm a terrible gift wrapper. but it's not my fault, i'm pretty sure it's genetic... so, i find myself using lots & lots of gift bags. which have several downfalls. for one, you just don't get the same effect, i must admit. a tree with lots of gift bags scattered below just isn't the same as lots of boxes with big, beautiful bows. & they are not very good at keeping sneaky eyes & fingers out, & i should know. i've peeked into way more packages than i can count, that's probably why my mom started sealing the bags shut with scotch tape. (the most embarrassing part of this confession occurred the first christmas i celebrated with jeff, while we were dating. see, jeff is the product of an incredibly talented gift wrapper, & inherited several of these gift wrapping genes. so, we gathered to exchange gifts... each one his gifts to me, had been wrapped with so much thought & attention to detail. and then there were the ones for him, crammed into cheesy gift bags. yeah, i felt proud.) anyway.... just because most of my presents will be wrapped in kraft paper bags, doesn't mean they can't have bit of sparkle & pizazz. that's why i'm eagerly awaiting the arrival of my tags from miss marta. they will certainly add just the right amount of umph! to any package. (hurry & order yours today, before it's too late!)

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

packaged & sent

i recently had the great pleasure of creating a pair of aprons for two sisters who love to bake... hopefully they will soon be dusted in flour & splattered with cookie dough. hope they're perfect. enjoy!

we're whipping up something special.

chattering like
school girls. giggles & laughter ringing through the air. the bubbling of the stove. the smell of toasted almonds & melting chocolate wafting through the house... yep! we're making toffee. yum! hopefully there will be some left to package!

Monday, December 3, 2007

i might be in heaven!

i remember buying the december issue of sunset magazine simply because this cake caught my eye... it looked like the epitome of christmas, all decked out in red & white. i never quite got around to making it (probably had something to do with the fact that i had a newborn & another little guy who wasn't quite 2 yet, running around crazily, keeping me a bit busy). but now that i have everything & everyone "under control" (wink! wink!) perhaps i'll take a stab at the recipe. (although i still have to find a pretty green pedestal to proudly display it on!) worse case scenario (but the more i think about it, the better it sounds)... i could always just do the short-cut version & just start with a store bought angel food cake. i bet it would make a pretty trifle too... just layer angel food chunks, whipped cream (or cool whip) & the candy cane pieces. okay, now i'm definitely hungry.

Sunday, December 2, 2007


by my mom in the baking aisle at the grocery store, & taste-tested by me, these were definitely a hit (i loved both the peppermint & the classic mint). where have i been? their website says the baking chips have been around since 2003. considering my LOVE for all things andes, i can't believe i've been missing out on them all of these years. although i'm sure all you bakers out there, have some yummy recipes for these little delights (& consider this an open invitation to share), i found them the perfect addition to my cup of hot cocoa... yum!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

christmas countdown

recently, while perusing miss jordan's lovely blog, i came across the idea of an activity based advent calendar. so, in following her lead, i came up with 24 activities for our little family to take part in, helping us spread the christmas cheer throughout the entire month...

  1. watch: how the grinch stole christmas
  2. drive around to see neighborhood lights
  3. go to disneyland
  4. watch: the nightmare before christmas
  5. make hot chocolate floats
  6. write letters to santa
  7. read a christmas book or two (the tale of the three trees is always a favorite!)
  8. ride the irvine rail road christmas train
  9. make cookies & treats for friends
  10. go christmas tree shopping
  11. make paper snowflakes
  12. watch: white christmas
  13. attend the newport harbor boat parade
  14. have a picnic dinner by the christmas tree
  15. make gingerbread houses
  16. make home-made bread for hot chocolate & toast
  17. go see the huntington harbor tour of lights & drive by tbn to see the light display
  18. go to disneyland
  19. ding dong ditch christmas treats
  20. watch santa's sleigh make their rounds
  21. have breakfast for dinner
  22. dip candy canes in chocolate
  23. watch: elf
  24. sing christmas songs & read the christmas story