Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Fall Bucket List: Complete!

Today is the first day of winter, and I am happy to report that I checked off every item on my Fall Bucket List!

Here's a recap:

  • I found Jonagold apples at Carter Mountain Orchard during a work event
  • I got a free flu shot at work
  • I made homemade applesauce - not for the first time, but the first time using a recipe and the correct tools

  • I took a staycation during a fall semester break from school
  • Dave and I carved pumpkins to display on our front porch

Done!  Though I am glad I am able to check off all items on the list, I have to admit the book I read to satisfy that item was only 22 pages long.  I had big plans to read another book - a meatier one - and am still going to finish it, but it didn't happen in the fall.  Too bad.

The point of doing this was to help take my mind off 24/7 school, and that part was definitely a success!  I finished my semester with an A and a B, plus I managed to have some fun.  It got me out of the house and away from the computer, and it also motivated me to do some projects.

Now I'm moving on to my winter list - though I'm not calling it a bucket list so I don't feel the must-check-off-every-item-or-I'm-a-failure pressure.  Stay tuned!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Yep, we're *those* neighbors

We're those neighbors with pumpkins and a fall wreath still out on the 17th of December.

We're also those neighbors with a rotten porch :(

Rolo Turtles

A coworker signed up for Pinterest today, and she's already adding value to the Pinternet <- see what I did there?

I was looking for a recipe that includes only ingredients I already have in my pantry since I am in the baking mood but don't feel like braving the grocery store.  First I tried Super Cook, an awesome website where you choose ingredients you have on hand and it spits out a recipe using only those ingredients.  None of the results appealed to me, though, so I tried trolling Pinterest instead.

My coworker just happened to pin a recipe during my search that included ingredients we have in our pantry - Rolo's, mini pretzels, and pecans:  Rolo Turtles!

I have pecans and mini pretzels in the pantry for 2 baking projects that I haven't made yet and probably won't until next year, or some random day in July when I'm missing the holiday season:  here and here.  The Rolo's were a birthday present from my Bonnie since she knows I love them.

I counted out 30 of each item so everything was at my fingertips - it started as just counting an even number of Rolo's and unwrapping them, but then decided having a set number of each item (30) of everything ready to go for assembly would make the whole thing easier.  I'd like to say I chose 30 as the random number because that's all the Rolo's I had, but that would be a lie.  I might have kept 1 or 2 or 9 out to snack on later.

I lined up the pretzels 6x5 on a small cookie sheet and added a Rolo on top of each one:

Bake at 350 degrees for 4-ish minutes, and when they come out of the oven, gently press a pecan onto each one to flatten the Rolo.  We're going for gently, not Rolo obliteration:

And here they are!

They're cooling now so the chocolate will harden a little - but I can't wait to have a few with a tall glass of milk :)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Dueling Christmas Trees...

Cue the banjos...

Last year I shared a tacky project - a JMU Christmas tree.  We put it up along with our big tree - it's so festive and I love it!

I love it so much that this year I made a University of Richmond tree to go with it!

They taunt each other from opposite ends of the living room.  Since I've only finished one semester at UR I haven't collected many mementos to hang on it so it's a little bare, but I did purchase some red and silver ball ornaments and a $1.99 fleece blanket to use as a tree skirt.

I did add some awesome ornaments, like my first UR-specific ornament:

Also, I painted some clear ball ornaments to dress up my tree, just like I did for the JMU one:

it was hard to get a good shot of this one - it's supposed to be a spider but the design in the back blurred it :)

I also added my Virginia ornament from the Handmade holiday...

...and my cupcake ornament from BFF day:

There's plenty of time to collect ornaments I love for this tree, so I won't be running out to find several UR-related ones.  I did put one on my Christmas list though ;)

Since we now have 2 college-themed trees, we didn't put up the big tree this year.  It's sleeping up in the attic - maybe it'll make an appearance next year :)

Friday, December 16, 2011

Pinterest Craft Day: Cupcake Ornaments

While our cinnamon applesauce ornaments were cooling, we got to work on another ornament project:  cupcakes!

Bonnie pinned these so I thought I'd surprise her with a bonus project during our craft day :)  I got everything we needed for these ornaments at Michael's:

  • 2 1/2 inch diameter styrofoam balls
  • fake snowflakes
  • foam brush and craft glue
  • cranberry-ish floral sprigs
  • foil cupcake papers
  • ribbon
You'll also need bbq skewers and a glue gun.

Poke one of the styrofoam balls with the skewer and coat it with craft glue:

Then roll the ball in the fake snow to coat it:

Easy Peasy!

Once it dries, it's time to add the cupcake paper.  Apply glue from glue gun around the top inside edge of the cupcake paper.  Then take the coated ball off the skewer and insert it into the foil paper.  Gently apply pressure around the circumference to make sure the paper is attached to the ball:

Almost done!  The next step is adding the ribbon, if you are going to use this as an ornament.  I used the skewer to insert the ribbon loop into the styrofoam.  

I pushed it down inside about 1/2 inch, and then put some hot glue to fill up the rest of the hole:

The last step is to add the cherry!  I cut off 1 berry from the floral sprig and hot glued it right where the ribbon is inserted into the ball.  Once everything is dry, it's ready to be put on the tree!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Pinterest Craft Day: Cinnamon Applesauce Ornaments!

After Bonnie and I went to the Handmade Holiday and then had some lunch at Padow's, we came back to my house to work on some projects!

First up were McCormick's cinnamon applesauce ornaments - from where else but Pinterest!

Bonnie pinned these a while back, but until she suggested we make them on craft day, I hadn't looked at it close enough to realize they are made of only 2 ingredients.  I can't mess that up, can I?  Ha, we'll see :)

Because we wanted to make a bunch of ornaments, we each doubled the recipe and made our own batch.  Out of each batch, we probably got at least 10 ornaments of various sizes.  Here's what we used:
  • 1 1/2 cups applesauce
  • 2 and 1/4 cups cinnamon
That's it - mix those up with your hands and once it's thick like cookie dough...
 Although it looks and smells like cookie dough, the recipe says DO NOT EAT in all caps, so leave all the dough for the ornaments, k?

...put a quarter of the batch between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and roll it out to about 1/3 inch thickness:

Now it's time for cookie cutters!

We had a candy cane, a Christmas tree, 2 gingerbread men, a snowflake (FAIL), and a star.  Here they are cut out and ready to go in the oven at 200 degrees for 2.5 hours:

Don't forget to use a straw or skewer to add a hole at the top of each ornament so you can add a ribbon for hanging it on the tree!  So cute!

A perk of this project is that your whole house will smell like Christmas for the entire 2.5 hours!

Once they were cooled on a wire rack for a few hours, Bonnie decided to paint some of them.  Notice there are no snowflakes on this finished tray - I was a little rough when poking the ribbon holes and they had lost a limb by the time they cooked...but a few candy canes and trees came out for me, and most of Bonnie's gingerbread men made it! 

Here's my candy cane hanging on the tree:

Stay tuned for cupcake ornaments!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Handmade Holiday at Plant Zero

This weekend, Bonnie and I trekked down to Plant Zero for the Richmond Craft Mafia's Handmade Holiday!

The same group held the Spring Bada-Bing in April and I loved all the handmade goodness!  It's like a craft fair, but less tacky Grandma and more locally-made Etsy-like items!  So me! :)

I scoped out some of the vendors on the RCM blog beforehand, so I had a couple items to watch out for like these chic vases by turnerbots (in eggplant, of course):

And this embroidery hoop art, by Il Gatto Selvatico:

Unfortch I didn't see either - turnerbots had little ceramic robot guys, but I didn't see these vases...bummer. 

Modern June had a ton of awesome stuff, including her new book, Sewing with Oilcloth, but I didn't purchase anything.  I would love to get my hands on that book, but not sure I'd ever make anything with oilcloth to make it worth the money :(

I did find a few things I couldn't leave without :)

Funnelcloud was selling these beautiful maps and other artwork.  I purchased the Virginia map, with each county separated by color - so cool!  This will for sure be included in our upcoming stairway gallery wall:
I also picked up a hand-painted Virginia ornament from her booth:

Lastly, I picked up a little mushroom ring holder, by Tasha McKelvey:

I look forward to the next event!  I must do even more research before going in case it's as crowded as it was this time!  There were a ton of people there (included YHL's Petersiks), and it was hard to navigate through them to see the most popular booths, so I'm sure there was stuff we missed. 

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Date Night in Fredericksburg!

Last night after we met baby Agnes Ann, Bonnie had to go to work so Dave and I followed her downtown to have a date night.  Rarely am I in my old hometown without anything to do or someone to meet, so I wanted to take advantage of our free evening to show Dave around my old stomping grounds.

Our first stop was Hyperion!

Dave loves coffee, and I love Hyperion in spite of my disdain for the hot, caffeinated, beany stuff.  Blech.  In high school, Hyperion was a place where my friends and I would go after football games, marching band competitions (yep, we were the supercool kids), and pretty much anytime we could.  We loved the music, the atmosphere, the long farmhouse table right next to the coffee bar because all of us could sit at one table and just hang out and talk.

The menu is bigger than I remember, but I suppose coffee trends have changed in the last 15 years.

Dave got some micro-sized coffee drink - I'm sure it has a special name like no-fat decaf soy mocha choco latte java lava frap-tini something.  Oh wait, he's saying it's called espresso macchiato.  Well that's just not as fun, is it?
Isn't that cute?

I had a Diet Coke with some hummus and pretzel chips.  Yum.  Also, Dave's a Hyperion fan now - he said whenever I want to take him there I can.  Thanks buddy!  I'll take you up on that! :)

Once we were caffeinated, we talked about where to have dinner.  I didn't want to turn lame and drive the mile outside town to Dairy Queen for dinner, although we also clocked many hours in that place in high school.  Instead I wanted to stay downtown, so we threw around some options that were within walking distance - although pretty much everything downtown was technically within walking distance :)  All within 1 block we had Capital Ale House, which we can patronize at home; Otter House, which has reviews containing roaches and food poisoning; Castiglia's, where we eat often with friends; and Kybecca.

Clear winner.

On the way up the block to Kybecca we saw the soft glow of electric sex gleaming in the window of the Olde Towne Butcher:

Kybecca is for hipsters.  The food was really good - I had shrimp and grits, and Dave got fried ravioli.  The music was even better.  I was that idiot who asked for a Diet Coke, without realizing they only serve organic drinks - no sodas.

After dinner we walked around a bit - I showed him the slave auction block; the Chinese restaurant where the guy I knew from high school, who recently got arrested for beastiality, used to deliver food part time; and we saw Santa greeting children in the Museum Store.

Good times in the 'Burg!

Hospital Survival Kit for New Moms

Please feast your eyes on Agnes Ann Colleluore:

Agnes was born on Thursday night and we are all in love with her!  Sharon and Joe are the first of our group of friends to have a baby, so Agnes will be the most spoiled little girl on the planet until another little one comes along.  She has plenty of faux aunts and uncles to love her!

Friday we visited the Colleluores in the hospital and we came bearing gifts.  Bonnie found a really cool hospital survival kit for new mothers on Pinterest a while back, and we thought it would be a great practical gift to take with us to meet Agnes.  Baby gifts are cool, but that means the new parents, in addition to remembering to take the kid and all her stuff home, need to remember a gift as well.  So we wanted to fill the bag with things that they might need to use while in the hospital, so there's less stuff to take home.

We stuffed the bag with the following items:

  • 4 mini bottles of water
  • baby powder
  • tissues
  • mouth wash
  • brush and compact
  • chapstick
  • gum
  • hand sanitizer
  • rubberbands and headbands
  • baby wipes
  • candy
  • fuzzy socks
To dress up the bag, which already had a cute pink bow as a handle, I used the free printable provided by the blogger who posted the original idea. I love free printables!  The little things make me so happy - plus she made pink, blue, and gender-neutral green labels so us less photoshop-inclined peeps can choose which one to download... :)

I cut out the pill-shaped pink kit label and attached it to the bag - she also included little footprint labels that you can use to hang from the handle of the bag.  I didn't use them, but they're so cute!

Here's the finished product:

I know for sure the candy was used since it was almost gone before we left the hospital that day!  Hopefully the rest of the items came in handy :)