Monday, November 30, 2009

If you're hungry, you'd better look away fast!

I was hoping to get loads done this weekend on the quilted advent calendar I've been working on. Absolutely no crafting got done on the calendar and I don't feel a bit guilty about it either. I did indulge myself in reading an entire James Patterson book in bed. Ahhh, nothing like a mindless, quick moving, murder mystery. I love the Alex Cross series. It might be related to the fact that he's a psychologist turned cop and my degree is in forensic psych. Anything to so with the topic is fascinating.

Anyhow, hubby and I picked Piper up from her dad's house on Saturday, a day earlier than usual. The extra time meant we were able to cook our butts off on Sunday for our second Thanksgiving. The holidays just aren't the same when Piper isn't around, so we just do it again when she's home. We did the whole giant turkey (we got a 20 pounder free from Shoprite) and cheddar garlic potatoes which are a staple here during the holidays. But the real treats were the desserts.

We used THIS recipe to bake two apple pies. As tempting as it was to completely over-indulge, we gave one of the pies away to our neighbors.

We also made three loaves of pumpkin bread using Kado's recipe. Yum! Very easy and super delicious. I'm not normally a fan of pumpkin and won'r eat pumpkin pie, but this bread is good stuff. Definitely a keeper.

Powdered sugar makes everything better!

We used pecans like Kado suggested and it was the perfect addition. We gave away two of the loaves to neighbors too. The neighbors better love me now, haha.

That pretty much sums up the weekend. Cooking, cooking, and more cooking. Now its back to the grind. You can see exactly how Piper and I feel about that!

Happy Monday!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Woo anniversary!

Today is the 4th anniversary of my 25th birthday. ;) Ok, ok it's my 29th birthday! I didn't get out of bed til 11 and I'm still in my jammies. Now that's a good start to the day. We did most of the birthday celebrating the last 2 days. Pi spent Thanksgiving weekend with her Dad, so Pi and hubby made a cake and a special dinner on Wednesday.

Yesterday, Piper, hubby, and I went into the city to see my family. Walking from Port Authority to the subway allowed us to see some of the balloons from the parade, which was really neat.

The Pillsbury Doughboy was awesome!

As was Buzz Lightyear. We didn't stick around to see the rest though.

We dropped Pi off at her dad's and she was not happy. We're going to have a second Thanksgiving on Sunday when she's back home, so she doesn't feel like she missed anything.
Then we headed off to my Aunt Aida's house.

As always, Dirty Grandma provided the entertainment. My cousin Michaela is having her birthday on Saturday, so we did some celebrating for her too. Its a biggie...she's going to be 10!

I made a batch of caramel brownies and had 4 requests for the recipe.

They didn't last long.

My sister Jennifer

My parents bought a birthday cake for me. I may have said WOOO very loudly, after I saw what kind of birthday cake it was because it wasn't any ordinary cake. It was a .....

CLOWN CAKE!!! hahahahahaa. I'm 29 and still get clown cakes. How awesome is that?

There's no way they'll ever be able to top the clown cake. :)
Hope everyone is enjoying their day off!

Happy Belated Thanksgiving!!!

More tomorrow!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Caramel Brownies

These brownies are known in my house as Jaime’s Brownies. Jaime was a former co-worker who gave me this recipe and a set of mixing bowls as a wedding gift. Jaime was spot on because I use this recipe and those bowls all the time. Thanks Jaime!


1 pack of Kraft caramels
1 small can of evaporated milk, 5 oz, divided
1 box of devil’s food cake mix with pudding in the mix
½ cup (1 stick of butter) melted and cooled
1 cup or more of semi-sweet chocolate chips
Use 9x11 baking pan for large brownies or 9x13 for smaller brownies


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Melt caramels with 1/3 cup (1/2 the can) milk in a heavy saucepan over low heat stirring frequently until smooth, set aside.

Mix remaining milk, cake mix, and butter in a large bowl.

Press half of the cake mixture onto the bottom of the baking pan. Bake for 8 minutes.

Sprinkle half of the chocolate chips onto the top and pout the melted caramel over the top. Spread to edges of pan.

Top with flattened spoonfuls of the cake mixture and press gently into caramel.
Sprinkle remaining chips on the top. Bake for 18 minutes.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A little of this, a little of that.

Can you believe Thanksgiving is this week? Holy cow, that was fast! It feels like Thanksgiving really snuck up on me this year. I had a whole stack of projects that I wanted to try, but am pretty much out of time.

One project that did get finished was a new table setting. I found this really goofy fabric at a local fabric store by my job and just had to have it. Since Pi wouldn't even entertain the idea of a turkey fabric skirt, the place settings were the next best thing.

The setting consists of a placemat (pattern here), cloth napkins (pattern here), coaster (pattern here), and a napkin ring (pattern here). It didn't take very long and I got to practice my binding.

I'm especially fond of the napkin rings because its much easier than it looks and you can recycle a cardboard ring from your plastic wrap. Talk about low cost material!

There's also been baking, lots and lots of it. My jeans are getting snug. But this is not a problem to think about the week of Thanksgiving. I'm sure I've got some sweatpants somewhere. heh.

Blueberry muffins and caramel brownies

To confirm that I'm completely out of mind, I started THIS quilted advent calendar. Nevermind that I've never appliqued or made sashing or free motion quilted. Ummm....yeah....totally over my head.

Man, I love a challenge!

I don't think I ever shared the brownie recipe. If anyone wants it, let me know and I'll post it. They taste as if you spent forever on them, but are super simple. Definitely a crowd pleaser!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Eat, drink, and be happy.

In an effort to be green, my job gave everyone a coffee mug (conveniently branded with the company logo in case we happen to forget where we work, haha). There's not a paper cup to be seen in the entire office.

Granted, the mugs are really nice and they work really well for coffee. But for those of us that drink ice water most of the day, the mugs are a big pain in the badunk a dunk. The condensation that forms is really annoying and we end up using a paper towel under the mug to prevent water from getting all over our desks and documents, which totally screws up the whole green thing.

I saw THIS coaster pattern over at Crochet Cami. My last attempt at coasters was a big old bust, so I wasn't holding my breath on this one either. Thankfully, the pattern turned out to be pretty simple and I whipped out six of them for myself and some of my co-workers, using left over fabric from the wall hangings I made.

Nothing goes better with coffee than coffee cake. I saw THIS pattern over at CookNKnit and had to try it. I used pecans instead of oatmeal and it turned out amazing. It may have been the best thing I ever baked.

Take a closer look. Yummmmm!!!


I made this cake about 2 weeks ago and forgot to upload the pics. Just looking at them makes me want to bake this again, right now!

P.S. - Ally, I'm definitely going to be making banana bread for Thanksgiving. Its become a family favorite around here!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

I need a new hobby... I need a hole in my head.

Not that I'll let that stop me!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Happy Birthday Dad!

Happy 46th Birthday!! Love you Dad!!!

Monday, November 9, 2009

The tale of the coin quilt gone wrong.

Once upon a time, there was an old maid named Christina, that saw a beautiful coin quilt on a magical island called the Internets. Christina was so entranced by this quilt, that she decided to make one all by herself. The Internets had lots of directions, so how hard could it be?

Christina gathered all the supplies she needed. Fabric scraps given to her by a friend long ago, for the coins, and blue fabric that Christina's mother, Lady Lydia, had gifted to her.

After much cutting and cursing and sewing and cursing and emotional eating, Christina had a beautiful crooked quilt top. Blast! Christina was quite devastated and thought she should be banished to a cell where the inept were banished from ever touching a sewing machine again.

See how it curves to the right?

After much thought, Christina decided that all was not lost. After more cutting and cursing and sewing and.... well, you get the point, Christina had two preemie sized quilt tops. After stitching in the ditch and binding, the preemie quilts were finished and all was well in the land. Christina's sewing machine lived to see another day!

The quilts accompanied the granny square blanket of yestermonth on a long journey to the NICU. Christina's dear friend Mary was not to be left out and sent a knitted baby hat along for the ride.

Another WIP got whacked! :)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Starting early

Being as its already November, I'm gearing up for Thanksgiving. We've already taken down the Halloween decorations and are trying to figure out what to put up for this month.

While I'm contemplating decorations, lets start the Thanksgiving season off with a meme I found.

1. Which do you like better: Cooking at your house, or going elsewhere?
I like cooking at home best, unless I'm going to mom's house. Her Thanksgiving meals rock!

2. Do you buy a fresh or frozen bird?
I've only ever done frozen. Where would I even get a fresh turkey?

3. What kind of stuffing?
I don't like stuffing (don't lynch me), but hubby does.

4. Sweet potato or pumpkin pie?
Neither! Give me a chocolate pudding pie any day!

5. Do you believe that turkey leftovers are a curse, or the point of the whole thing?
I love turkey leftovers. I'll eat them for days until they're all done.

6. Which side dish would provoke a riot if you left it off the menu?
Garlic cheddar mashed potatoes. *drool*

7. Do you save the carcass to make soup or stock?
Nope, I've never made homemade soup.

8. What do you wish you had that would make preparing Thanksgiving dinner easier?
More counter space and an extra oven.

9. Do you get up at the crack of dawn to have dinner ready in the early afternoon, or do you eat at your normal dinner hour?
Crack of dawn. Yet, we still manage to eat later than usual.

10. If you go to somebody else's house, what's your favorite dish to bring?
Cake, pies, or fudge.

11. What do you wish one of your guests wouldn't bring to your house?
Nothing. Bring it all! heehee

12. Does your usual mix of guests result in drama, or is it a group you're happy to see?
No drama. We're a peaceful bunch...mostly.

13. What's your absolute favorite thing on the menu?
Have to go with the garlic cheddar mashed potatoes again.

14. What are you thankful for this year?
I'm thankful for a great family (especially my super awesome spawn), a good job, a nice place to live, coffee, and chocolate!

What are you thankful for this year?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Happy (belated) Halloween!

I wasn't sure if Pi was going to be able to do Halloween this year. She had a nasty stomach bug on Friday, was sent home from school and was throwing up all day. Luckily, after a 6 hour nap, she woke up feeling much better.

For the end of October, the weather was very warm yesterday. It rained off and on but that didn't stop the neighborhood kids from trick or treating.

Pi was dressed as a 50's girl. I made her costume, using THIS tutorial and pink felt for the skirt and some iron on poodles from the fabric store. Finding ruffle socks in an adult size was the biggest challenge of the entire costume.

Before we went trick or treating, we headed down to the town's pool complex, where a haunted house was set up. We went before 6, because that's when its for weenies. They say its for the 10 and under crowd. After that, they ramp up the craziness for the older kids.

Check out the line!

Pi and her friend held hands, just in case it was too scary. So cute!

I probably shouldn't have used my flash, but I did. Oh well!
There was a graveyard...

The Addams family (I think) watching tv...

and Frankenstein in the lab. He randomly sat up which got some of the kids freaked out, haha.

Then we went trick or treating. In a matter of only 3 blocks, Pi filled up both her pumpkin and a shopping bag full of candy.
Some houses had a "take your own" sign.

Other houses were elaborately decorated.

After the trick or treating, we went to a local house that goes nuts with their decorations and opens their doors to the neighborhood for a few hours. It was the last year they were going to do it, so we decided to go. I'm so glad we did because it was great. I left my camera in my neighbors car, because it was pouring by the time we got there. So no pics, but definitely fun.
After I eat Pi's candy, its time to start thinking turkeys...and birthdays, heehee!