Can you believe Thanksgiving is in a week? It’s crazy making. My Christmas lists aren’t ready for Black Friday shopping so that is, for sure, the next on my to-do list. But I am thinking ahead to eating a LOT of food next Thursday. I’m also thinking about that intricate dance of getting all the side dishes timed perfectly to get to the table the same time as the turkey. And all those hot plates need somewhere to sit. All you need to do is head to your local hardware store and make these easy DIY trivits. You’ll have a set of matching trivits, a bountiful table of food and a full stomach in no time!
Yes, Thanksgiving is all about the food. We eat two full meals that day (one with my husband’s family and one with mine!) but there is nothing worse than the feeling of an empty stomach while you wait for all that yummy food to come out of the kitchen! I created these DIY place card and snack trays to guide your guests to their spot at the table and keep them from getting hangry… Head over to Julep to see the full DIY!
Image by Dez and Tam Photography
Have you ever made Panoramic Sugar Easter Eggs? My mom and I had so much fun posting about the candy bar trains we used to make at Christmas that we thought we would share these super fun Panoramic Sugar Eggs too. They are a bit time-consuming, and pretty fragile, but the end result is so sweet, it makes the work worth it. Make sure you read through before you decide to make them as you really need to make them a day or two ahead of time to make sure they set up and harden as much as possible. Or you can pull a Sharon and read through the post halfway and then try to make them and not give yourself enough time…that’s how most of the new recipes I try work out…
These do take a few special items so you will want to make sure you give yourself plenty of time. You need the sugar egg mold like this one here. I bought mine on Amazon and since I have prime it showed up really quickly. My mom picked some larger ones up from the local cake supply store. You will also need some miniatures to create your little scene with inside the egg. I am super lucky that I have my mom’s vintage miniatures to use. I’ve looked at my local craft stores and also online and they are really hard to come by. I pick them up whenever I see any that might work for the candy bar trains or these sugar eggs. And yes, some people make these panoramic eggs standing up and cutting out the center. That is crazy hard and we didn’t want to attempt that.
My mom did not keep her sugar egg instructions so she searched around online to refresh her memory of how to make the sugar. She used this post as a guide. First you make the sugar by mixing 6 cups super fine sugar (or put regular sugar in a food processor for a minute), 3 tablespoons of water and we used a touch of food coloring because I thought it would be really cute. As you may notice, the finished eggs are white sugar. That’s because my mom made the larger white eggs a few days prior so they would be ready when I needed to take the pictures. But I think I kind of adore the pink sugar and would love to make some like that as well! Once you get the sugar mixture ready, you press it in to your egg mold. And you really press it making sure it is packed really tight. After you are done compacting the sugar, use a butter knife to level the egg. It is best to do one half of the egg at a time because they are really fragile at this point and if you flop the other side out and don’t catch it correctly it will crumble.
Hurry! Quick! While it is still soft, you want to cut the flat edge off that will be the front window to the panoramic egg. And dig out a little section which will help you get started scooping out the middle later. And then you wait. For about 2 hours.
After two hours, the center will still be a bit soft but the outer shell will be harder. Using a spoon, you need to scoop out the middle, leaving enough around the outside so that it doesn’t collapse. Do a little at a time. Be extra careful near the front section, which you previously cut flat. It will be harder than the center and you may need to use a little pick or tooth pick to help get through it. A spoon might be a little too much force.
So the egg on the right is scooped out and the other side is not. If you wait too long, you won’t be able to scoop it out and then you will have a solid sugar egg which I think would still look pretty cool, especially if you didn’t cut off the flat edge on the front. Once it is all scooped out, let the eggs sit to harden for a day or more.
Once the eggs are hard, you can start getting really creative with them. You will need miniatures, royal icing in various colors and bright candies to decorate with. These chocolate covered sunflower seeds are super cute and look like little Easter eggs!
My mom used to do a lot of cake decorating so she has a ton of decorative icing tips that I get to use for these fun food crafts. Here we made grass using green royal icing. The royal icing works as the glue to hold in the scene inside the eggs.
And then the fun begins of decorating the outside. I don’t have any experience with cake decorating so I got really sweaty when my mom suggested that I do this part. Just practice a few times on a paper towel first and get the technique down. This little flower was super simple with the flower tip. The icing hides the seem in the sugar and makes it look cuter.
When my kids got home from school and saw these they totally freaked out. Well, they immediately asked if they could eat them and then they told me how cool they thought these were. This project is not quite as kid friendly as the candy bar trains were but I can certainly see older kids wanting to help with these. And making funny little scenes to go inside.
I wouldn’t suggest eating these as it is straight sugar and royal icing (which is pretty much sugar). These would be perfect for your Easter table or even as a spring centerpiece. Have you ever made these before? A BIG thank you to my mom for indulging me in this post and helping me to make the sugar eggs!
You can find a recipe for royal icing in my candy bar train post!
Why, oh why is winter break over?! I took a legit blog break this year and didn’t even think about “work” related stuff the entire time the kids were off of school. It was GLORIOUS! And I’m going to be honest, I’m having a rough time getting started again. I’ve been thinking about things to post but I can’t seem to motivate myself to actually doing anything more than that. And I’m okay with that. We had a fantastic break and I really enjoyed the down time with the kids. It wasn’t super glamorous. The pictures aren’t styled and pretty. But that is winning, I think. 2015 is the year we live life for real. And it may end up on the computer. But we aren’t going to do stuff just to post it. I know I am not the only one that falls in to that trap. My thinking has shifted which means this blog will probably be changing too. But that sounds like too much work so instead I’ll just let you know posts will be sort of spotty this month. And now I’ll share what we did on winter break.
The kids got to experience snow for the first time! Saddleback, a local church, invited us to come and check out the snow they brought in for after all their holiday services. They had SO much fun! And I felt like a big jerk since they are old and hadn’t been to the snow yet. We were pretty ill-equipped in the clothing department. Especially the gloves. They were silly little fabric things from Target that got really wet. And cold. Which in turn made their hands really wet and cold. I was sure my youngest had frostbite when we left. He didn’t, thank goodness. Then we got all bundled up and saw the new Annie. We loved it! Did you see it?
Then my little one decided it would be a good idea to try to slide down the hallway on a Pillow Pet. Needless to say that didn’t end well and we ended up at Urgent Care to see if he needed stitches. Thank goodness it was under his chin. They said it would scar but we didn’t have to do stitches if we didn’t want to. So we didn’t and as I sent him back to school this morning, it is all but healed! That could have ended up much worse and I’m so grateful for how it all turned out.
My oldest son got some allergy testing done to see where we are at with his food allergies. While the skin tests are pretty rough, I really felt like it was a good idea to let us know what’s going on with his nut allergies. He had never been tested for tree nuts before, only peanuts. He is still showing a pretty hearty peanut allergy but it has led us to look into tree nuts a little further. He tested negative for an allergy to cashews but walnuts came back super positive (that is totally my medical assessment…). We did a blood test to get a better look at the other nuts and have an appointment in a few weeks to find out those results. We also found out he wasn’t allergic to shellfish. He got to try shrimp on Christmas (thank you Grandma Marilyn for surprising him with it!) and he didn’t like it, but I have no doubts that he’ll really love coconut shrimp. We also found out that he is allergic to horses which is so random to me. He got the all clear to eat all the milk and eggs he wants which is awesome! So at least he has grown out of some of his allergies. I know it must absolutely suck to not be able to eat all the things like the other kids and he is really so good about it! He’s such an awesome kid!
Christmas Eve was spent with my husband’s side of the family eating his grandmother’s special Slovak meal. It was a big year for me. I blew out the candle from Jesus’ birthday cake. I don’t even know if anyone noticed, but usually one of the kids gets to it and they were at the kid’s table so I took it upon myself to blow it out. I’ve enjoyed their holiday tradition for probably 14 years now and I think that was my first time blowing it out. It’s the little things…And presents. Let’s not forget the presents.
We woke up the next morning and guess what, we opened more presents! Every year we wear our matching family pajamas. Never mind the pocketknife my husband is wielding. Most of us were holding our favorite gifts and that was his. Mine was not the Nerf gun I am holding, but I felt like it would be odd to hold picture frames. My husband had the boys draw pictures of presidents for me and they turned out awesome! Then my parents came over for breakfast and we opened more presents.
My sister came down for Christmas this year and it was so amazing to have her. We got to spend time hanging out drinking mimosas, chatting, watching the boys, and it was so needed for both of us. I didn’t want her to go home. I’m super excited to get to visit her in April!
OMG. How cute is this kid?! My baby turned six a few days after Christmas. So…more presents. This kid is silly and funny and so special. And I love being his mom. I can’t wait to see the grown up version of this kid. I mean, I can. I don’t want him to grow up fast. But this guy is interesting. I wonder what he’ll become. It’s exciting. And see, you can’t even tell he split his chin open a week earlier. I also learned that if the fate of the world rested on my cake decorating skills we would all die. I am just TERRIBLE at it!
Then I got to head back to Temecula for some wine tasting. This was a mother/daughter trip with some very close friend’s of the family and it was an amazing time! We visited Lorimar again (because I just can’t get enough) and wrapped up with Almond Champagne at Wilson Creek. It was a quick getaway, but super fun.
And we woke up on New Year’s Eve morning in Temecula to snow!!!!! It was sheer luck that we were there when it snowed as it is not something that happens often. My car was covered and I was a little worried about driving on the roads. We stopped and had breakfast before heading home to let the roads melt a little. I managed to get all the way back to my house in Orange County with snow still on my car. The boys were able to have a snow ball fight in front of our house! We wrapped up 2014 by taking the boys to Dave and Busters for some afternoon gaming and then came home to enjoy some family time, trying to make it until midnight. The boys were fine. I almost didn’t make it. And then I welcomed in the new year with the stomach flu. Not cool. I’m still not back to normal. So I’m probably going to go sit on the couch and watch Food Network now. I’m sure there are good things to come from this blog. At some point. :)
Happy New Year!
*Today’s post is sponsored by Thymes, but my love for their Frasier Fir collection is all my own! My pine addiction is pretty much lifelong…
Holiday decorating is always hard for me. I don’t love holiday decor. Can I confess that the holiday fragrances are more magical to me than the decor? And I also don’t love that unless you go on a real hunt for cool, less traditional decor, you are stuck with whatever look the stores are selling that year. Thank goodness some of the larger stores are really stepping up in the design area and there are usually some good finds. Over the last few years I have been taking the time to go through the decorations in the garage and getting rid of the things that were bought on a whim, but I don’t love. (A few things I am holding on to simply because the smell reminds me of some awesome childhood memories). I’m trying to grow our collection to include things we are really drawn to and fit our personal style. Today I’m sharing 10 ways to put your personal style in your holiday decor.
1. Pick a color palette that YOU like. While most stores bombard you with decorations that are green, white and red, you can go in a different direction. Whites and silver, with a little sparkle, like in the image above) make for a super wintery look. Similarly, if you love hot pink, add it! Either diy something store-bought or let your friends and family know what you are looking for so they can help you scout out those harder to find decorations.
2. Don’t pack away the great pieces that you love the rest of the year. Figure out how to incorporate the pieces you love and still have your house feel holiday ready. Create little vignettes for visual interest. And see if there are ways to play up the holidays. Done right, a sleigh bell swag draped on this horses’ neck would be awesome and seasonal appropriate.
3. Try new plants and flowers in your home that have a holiday feel. Whether they are real or faux, go for something different. Look for berry-like stalks or even forgo flowers and use just greenery. Trader Joe’s is the best for finding unusual, seasonal plants and flowers. Even using just a small amount, mixed in with your usual decor will change the look of the room and have it feel more festive. And that simple Thymes Frasier Fir Pine Needle candle adds the perfect winter look to pair with unexpected foliage.
4. Look for great vessels, that match your holiday decor aesthetic, and use them to house your favorite succulents. Tuck in a few berries or even rosemary sprigs to take them from summery desert to wintery and lush. The modern looking white woodgrain soap dish from the Frasier Fir collection would be perfect for a succulent arrangement!
5. Add some flair in unusual places. Pine branches and glittery, decorative picks add warmth and whimsy to a room and is unexpected when placed in a magazine holder. Skip the usual mantle garland and instead add your greenery around the room at different visual levels. While most things are set on tables or shelves, don’t forget to survey your floor space to see if you can style something on the ground as long as it won’t impede your usual traffic.
6. For a lot of us, our trees go up much closer to December 25th (here in CA they dry out and die if you get them too early) which means that we don’t get a lot of time to enjoy our favorite ornaments. There is no rule against using ornaments on house plants. And you get to have your favorites up earlier so you can enjoy them longer. This Botancial Ornament does double duty as both decoration and room fragrance.
7. There are standard phrases used to share holiday cheer, like Noel, Merry Christmas, etc. But I took a cue from my kids, and their excitement for the season, to use a new word for our wall decorations. I mean, with all the presents and the treats and fun events that happen over the holidays, could there really be a better word? Also these mini mylar balloons are a super fun, celebratory way to decorate. They make your room feel like a party.
8. Tuck holiday themed candles around your living space to play up the season. Candles, like this one from Thymes, are really nice looking and don’t steal the attention from the style of your room but rather blend in with it. They special holiday scents with a variety of decorative candles so I’m sure you’ll be able to find one that fits in with your style. Some of the gingerbread items come in this gorgeous amber-colored glass!
9. Choose a signature holiday scent. For me, I’m a pine girl all the way. My soaps, candles, etc. are all in this scent. This year I’m using Thymes Frasier Fir collection. The scent is a mix of fir needles, cedarwood and sandalwood. All of the products layer nicely together to bring a subtle scent to the house all season long. They even created home care products in this scent so even my cleaning can feel more seasonal. I love this reed diffuser set for the smell but also because the reeds mimic the pine needles to me. And like I mentioned in number 6 above, we don’t get our trees for a while. I have to get my pine fix in! And the smell just makes me happy. Yes, I could use it year round, but for me, pine IS the holidays. But if it isn’t for you, they also have gingerbread with spicy notes of cinnamon, cardamom and ginger, yum.
Smells always evoke memories for me, but especially around the holidays. I can easily think of the various smells found in my mom’s boxes of holiday decorations. There’s the Avon candle from when she sold their cosmetics. There is the smell of the ornaments and the tissue they are wrapped in. There is peppermint from the candy canes that get put away with all the other decorations, inadvertently, every year. And there’s pine. Always pine. The scent that I look forward to all year. It signals the holiday season and the joy that I get to share with my own family now.
10. Don’t forget the kitchen! I don’t know about you, but the kitchen rarely gets decorated for any holiday. BUT that is where you spend a lot of time during the holiday season with all your baking and holiday hosting. So from this year on, I will be switching to my favorite scent in the kitchen too. And this white, faux wood holder, that this sink set comes in, is sleek and chic but feels wintery. While I can’t say that this will make me look forward to doing the dishes, I do know when I smell the Frasier Fir, I will have a moment of joy.
Head over to the Thymes site to check out all their amazing scents and shop for yourself or others on your gift list. Once there, you can redeem your exclusive offer for a free Fragrance Studio Sample Kit with any purchase of $25 of more! Thymes creates fragrances that are a mix of familiar and intriguing rooted in botanical perfumery. Drawn from nature, their unique formulations are artfully crafted to create products that are skin-compatible, environmentally friendly, effective and a pleasure to use.
Thank you for supporting the brands, like Thymes, that let me keep blogging. Especially the ones that make the most glorious pine-y fragranced products that make me swoon.
Yes, you read that right. Cherry Fun Dip Whipped Cream. This is a super easy Valentine’s Day treat for kids. I like to think that my kid’s don’t eat a lot of junk food. But I would be kidding myself. Due to food allergies we steer clear of ice creams, cupcakes and cookies when out and about. But I am learning that I over compensate for that with candy. I really am trying to work on that this year. But there are a few days out of the year, when an extra special treat just makes sense. And Valentine’s Day is just that. If you didn’t see my Stout Brownie post the other day I became obsessed with all the things you can do with homemade whipped cream. So I decided to see if I could flavor it with candy. Well, let me be perfectly honest. I originally tried cherry jello, and since I am a novice in the kitchen, I had no idea that the gelatin would make the heavy cream get crunk. That is really just the best way to describe it. It’s not just a dance you know. It is totally what it turns in to when you add jello to heavy whipping cream. I mean it started out fine, and then BAM! Crunk. Lauren suggested trying a powdered candy and I knew right away she was on to something.
Now is the perfect time to find multi packs of Fun Dip at Target. I didn’t think I would have trouble finding Fun Dip, but it isn’t easy to just buy one or two bags of it (Note to my local OC peeps: the Irvine Spectrum has a candy store in the Target wing that does sell them by the piece). I picked up a package of Valentine’s sized Fun Dips and picked out all the cherry (blue would just be super grody – not really – pink is just cuter). Making the Cherry Fun Dip Whipped Cream is really easy. I use a cup of heavy whipping cream, a TBSP of powdered sugar and 8) .5 ounce packs of cherry Fun Dip. I’m not sure if the regular, individually sold packages are bigger than this so just know that you will need about 4 total ounces of the powder.
How awesome will your kids think you are when you surprise them with this on Valentine’s Day morning in their chocolate milk. Oh, you don’t serve this type of trash to your kids that early? Then by all means, save this for afternoon snack.