Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas time

It’s Christmas morning and all is quiet for now.  There are a couple more presents to wrap but only for those we won’t be seeing for a while.  Christmas cards were sent out about a week ago, so I hope you all got them.  If you didn’t here’s the picture we used:



This was taken during a dolphin cruise we took while in Destin, FL.  We hope you all have a very Merry Christmas today and that you all have safe travels today and throughout the Winter season.


Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Cookie Crazy!

This past weekend I had 3 cookie baking events!  First up was Saturday morning with my Mom, Sister-in-law and Niece all at my house.  They brought some pre-made cookies and together we made peanut butter kisses and spritz.  Mom also made some pretzel/kiss/M&M treats.  Then onto frosting sugar cookies.  We had lots of cookies and a ton of fun baking together.



The following day I headed over to my husband’s Aunt’s house for more baking.  There were 9 adults and 3 kids and a huge mess!  We baked more peanut butter kisses and spritz.  Pecan fingers, sugar cookies and chocolate covered pretzel rods.  I brought over 11 dozen sugar cookies and my Mother-in-law brought at least 4-5 dozen and we made about 4 more dozen so in total there were about 20 dozen sugar cookies to decorate!  Yikes!  We opened up the champagne and had a blast!  As you can see in the pictures below, every place you turned you see cookies!



Then Monday at work we had a cookie exchange where everyone participating brought in a half dozen cookies for the others.  In total 10 people signed up, so everyone made 5 dozen to pass out.  My co-worker also brought in about 7-8 dozen sugar cookies to decorate!  More cookies!!!  The one positive is that by the 3rd day I was skilled in my cookie decorating, but I am cookied out!



While I am keeping lots of cookies, I have about 24 dozen cookies shipping to the troops overseas.  I hope they all make it safe and sound and brings some holiday cheer to those that are so far away from home.


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sugar Cookie Cutouts

I blogged a bit about this last year, but I’d like to show you a new trick I have for making sugar cookie cutouts.  The hardest thing to do when making cutouts is to keep the thickness of the dough the same from batch to batch.  They make these rubber spacers that slip onto rolling pins, but I don’t have them yet (hint, hint).


So instead I used 2 clothes hangers to roll the rolling pin on.  The white plastic hangers are a little too big and the wire ones are a little too small, but these in-between ones are perfect!



FYI, you can see my new yellow rolling pin in the picture above… it’s the Wilton one, kinda pricy, but sooooo worth it! 


My other tips are from my first post, but I thought I would remind you all here.  After cutting your cookies out place them in the freezer for at least 15 minutes.



Freezing them helps them keep their shape after baking.  Can you see those how pointy those stars are?!?!  This also allows you to keep them close together without them melting into each other.



I also make sure not to over-bake them.  Once the outside ones start to brown on the edges they are done.  You can also see from my pictures that I freeze and bake on parchment paper.  This helps keep the bottoms from burning and also makes clean-up a breeze.


To cool, I use these stackable cooling racks.  My brother bought me two sets (3/set) and at first I didn’t think I would need 2 sets, but I use them all the time.



I also use really big cookie sheets.  These are about the width of the inside of my oven.  I prefer to only bake one sheet at a time, otherwise you have to rotate the pans halfway through and I always forget to do that. 


And lastly, here’s the sugar cookie recipe I use.  They are all about the same though, so no surprises or secret ingredients.

Sugar Cookie Recipe

Recipe from

Cream together:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar

Beat in:
1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups sifted flour

Mix until all ingredients are well blended. Chill dough 3-4 hours before rolling.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Roll out on a lightly floured counter to 1/4" thick and cut with your favorite Ann Clark cookie cutters, then transfer cookies onto cookie sheets that have been lined with parchment paper or silicone liners. Bake about 8-10 minutes or until lightly colored. Let cookies cool slightly on cookie sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Flower arrangements with floral foam

I wasn’t asked to make any food items for Thanksgiving this year, so instead I made a floral arrangement for my Mom’s house.  I took a 2 hour flower arranging class about 2 years ago where I learned about floral foam. 


This foam is great for flowers because it holds gallons of water, seriously!  I filled my container with the foam and then ran water over it for about a minute before it stopped soaking it up.  The container felt as heavy as a gallon of milk.  It’s great for keeping the flowers in the position you want and the best part is that there is no issues with transporting it.  No vases filled with water falling over and making a mess.

I wish I took a picture of the flowers before I arranged them, but it was just a bouquet I picked up at Pick n’ Save for $12 a couple days ago.  I kept them in a vase of water without even taking the wrapper off. 

After my container was ready I started cutting all the flowers off the stems as far as I could.  Then I started in adding flowers starting in the middle with the lilies and some of the greenery.  Then the purple asters and the single yellow rose.  I added the cattails next and then moved on to filling in the bottom half.  The bouquet had a lot of reds in it, so I tried to mix in the yellow flowers and additional greenery where I could.


002 - Copy

001 - Copy

The container I used is 8”X8”X4” and it took all the flowers except for a lily I didn’t like.  I love how it turned out and I think it will look great on my Mom’s table for Thanksgiving.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Kelsey’s Baby Shower

Yesterday I attended Kelsey’s baby shower.  She is having a girl and her nursery colors are pink and brown.  Earlier this year I posted about a couple owl sewing projects I had done and for her shower I decided to make them again… except this time in pink!




I wrote a little poem for each item too:


Hoo Hoo

This owl was made with love and cheer,

for a little baby that has yet to appear.

The fabric is pink as I’ve heard it’s a girl

and this owl is ready to dance, spin & twirl.

And if this little girl happens to have nightmares,

this owl is ready, so monsters beware!




Owl Beanie

When a baby is born you must keep their head warm

especially in Wisconsin’s cold winter storms.

This beanie hat will do just the trick

she’ll be so cozy & warm you’ll think it’s magic.




Clutch Diaper Changing Pad

When it’s time to change that stinky diaper

Here’s a changing pad you’ll admire.

There’s a pocket inside for a diaper and wipes

just pull it out and you’re ready to swipe.

The inside is soft for your baby’s bottom

she’ll be happy to lay still, it will be no problem.

And if she starts getting fussy just turn it around,

when she sees the owls her happiness will abound.





Rice Bags

Microwave 1-2 minutes on High

and kiss those aches & pains good-bye.

They also work wonders in a car seat

to warm up those little hands and feet.

Or freeze them for a little while

to fix those boo-boos up in style!


Thursday, November 17, 2011

Chocolate Covered Pretzel Rods

My friend, Jen G., hosts a bake sale every year at St. John the Evangelist to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  Her sister was diagnosed with leukemia back in high school, but she fought it and now her and her husband run in marathons in support of the cause. 

I baked for them last year, but this year I didn’t have much time, so I decided to try making chocolate covered pretzel rods.  Here’s how it went:

First I bought all the ingredients I needed.


I bought 5 bags of pretzel rods (approx. 20 usable/bag), 2 12oz bags of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips, 2-12oz bags of dark chocolate chips, a bag of caramels (FYI, Pick ‘n Save has them on sale for $0.75/bag!), 1 bag chopped pecans, 1 bag of Oreo cookies, 1 large bag of white chocolate melts and 50 clear treat bags.

The first pretzel rods I made were Turtle.  I first dipped them in melted caramel, then semi-sweet chocolate and sprinkled pecans on them.  Then into the freezer until the chocolate solidified.



The second ones I made were Triple Chocolate.  These were dipped in semi-sweet chocolate, put in the freezer, dipped in dark chocolate, put in the freezer and then white chocolate was piped on.



The last ones were Cookies & Cream.  These were dipped in white chocolate and then crushed Oreo cookies were sprinkled on.  They were then put in the freezer to set up.



Once they were all made I put one of each in the clear treat bags.  There were enough for 33 bags.


I displayed them in two baskets with a sign.  I decided to try and lure buyers by saying they were gourmet.  The hardest part is deciding how much to sell them for.



I dropped them off the morning of the sale and their table was packed!  They get the Breadsmith to donate any unsold baked goods the night before the sale. 

bake sale


Jen G. let me know that my pretzel rods were gone by 1pm and in total they raised $1,000 from the sale!  I’m so glad I was able to help them out with their sale.  The pretzel rods did take longer than I expected, but now I know if I decide to make them again.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Christmas in November

I’ve was out of town for a few days this week and when I returned on my way home Friday afternoon I heard Christmas music on the radio.  I LOVE Christmas music… but I prefer if the radio wouldn’t start until after Thanksgiving.  And it wasn’t just one station playing it, there were at least two and I’m sure at least one AM station was probably already playing it as well.  At least there are other stations available to listen to until I am good and ready to hear all the lovely Christmas tunes.

Also, while on my way home I made a stop at the grocery store where I first heard and then saw the Salvation Army’s Red Kettle.  I posted about the kettles last year where I said I would put in $1 into every kettle I saw.  I mostly kept track and in total I gave about $10.  If Jake was with me I let him put in an additional quarter which he loved.  So this year I am repeating my mission and I gladly dropped in my $1 into the kettle.

And as I write this blog post the town’s Christmas parade is taking place in downtown.  I went with Jake back in 2009, but his naps interfere with the parade and we need Jake to take his naps.  The parade is cute, not too long for the little ones and today the weather is a perfect sunny 54F. 

I already have two cookie exchanges planned for this Winter season and was planning on putting up Christmas lights today, but I’m a bit sleep deprived from all the traveling.  I like to put them up now because when I wait until December the weather doesn’t cooperate too well and my fingers get frozen. 

I am definitely feeling the Christmas spirit… in November!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Good ‘ole Chocolate Chip

chocolate chip

I like to bake different types of goodies, but sometimes all I want is a good ‘ole chocolate chip cookie.  I’ve only used the recipe on the back of the Nestle Toll House package.  Maybe someday I will take the time to figure out the perfect recipe. 

A few years back I saw an episode of Good Eats all about chocolate chip cookies.  I just found the chewy cookie recipe and video clip.  I will definately have to try this recipe next time!

Thursday, November 3, 2011



Have you heard of Pinterest yet?  My friend Becky invited me to join and while I was wary at first, I am now addicted.  It is a website that was designed for you to pin all sorts of ideas for food, home, kids, inspiration, photography, DIY, etc… You pin these ideas onto boards that you define.  Let’s take a tour of the site:


First you make a couple boards that can be whatever you want. 



Once you have some boards made you download a “pin it” button in your internet browser so when you see something you can pin it right away.  Here are some of the boards I’ve made and an example of what I’ve pinned:

DIY – Homemade chalkboard paint



Food – Cinnamon wreath



When I’m A Millionaire – Amazing tree house



Products I Love – Pineapple corer/slicer



Make Me Laugh – Squirrel interpretative dance

Make Me Laugh


Once you have something pinned you can go back at anytime and click on your pin and it will take you to the website where you originally found it.  This has come in so handy since the bookmarks in my browser are kind of messy and it’s hard to find things. 


When you sign up they will ask what your interests are and recommend some people to follow.  This way you can see what other people are pinning who have similar interests.  You can also follow your friends.  Here is a snapshot of my homepage of the people I follow which is actually mostly of Becky’s sister, Sue:


If you like someone else’s pin you can either “repin” it onto one of your boards, “like” the pin which still allows you to find it, or make a comment on the pin.  If you repin a pin you will be able to go to the website that it was originally pinned from.


You can also follow everything that people have pinned or select certain categories to see what people have pinned in there.



Let me know if you would like to join, I can send you an invitation.  Or, if you are already pinning let me know so I can follow you.  I added a button on the right if you would like to follow me on Pinterest.  Happy Pinning!

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Happy Halloween!

Here are some pictures from our adventures in trick-or-treating.  Enjoy!