Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Christmas Home Tour 2014

It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas around our house! I spent last week putting the final touches on my decor and getting ready to host a Christmas party for our church youth group. The Christmas party was a lot of fun and a great way to kick off the festivities. Here is a tour of this year's Christmas decor, glitter is definitely the prevailing theme, I am just drawn to everything glittery right now! :) 

On the dining room table I have set a glittery vintage Christmas scene, I love all of my fox ornaments as well as all of the retro trucks with Christmas trees on top.

I love these little pine cone elves, and if you look in the back of the picture you can see the little retro style camper with a Christmas tree on top, I love retro campers and I was excited find this little ornament. 

For our Christmas party I wanted to do a dessert table with a milk and cookie theme, these little milk glasses were perfect with chevron printed Christmas straws, sadly the kids all opted for soda, but that's okay, I will put the glasses to use at our next party. :)

I made a tray of mini red velvet cupcakes, I always make a few batches of these every Christmas for various events.

I made four different cookies to kick off baking season, you can read the bulk of my cookie recipes in my cookie posts here, and here, or in my baking index on the side bar. I made green colored crispy rice treats, oatmeal scotchies, Andes mint cookies, and molasses cookies.

I set out hot cocoa packets with a jar of peppermint marshmallows, we love hot cocoa this time of year!

I was at target last week to work on my Christmas shopping and found these reindeer and Santa on sale, I just love the way they look and it was nice to update my living room decor a bit, I hadn't changed it much in a few years. This year my living room is a sort of modern vintage glittery theme.

It all started with this little red glitter deer ornament.

This little red glittery deer is perfect for my tiny hall table.

I just fell in love with these vintage deer and the domed Christmas scene, this little display makes me happy every time I see it!

Last year the fireplace mantel was old fashioned Christmas Santas. This year I brought out the flocked metal cone shaped trees that I hadn't used for a few years, I thought they would be perfect with the reindeer.

I love the turquoise with the red and green. The little pine cones in the front are tea light holders from Yankee, this year instead of a Playmobil or Lego advent calendar, since the kids are now young adults, I decided that I would get the Yankee candle advent calendar, each day you open a window and get a new Christmas scented tea light to burn, we have all been enjoying it!

I love the way the Christmas lights reflect off glitter, it really sparkles at night.

The foyer I kept pretty much the same as last year, with only the addition of a couple more floral picks and two faux gold mercury glass candle holders which I found earlier this year. I love this glittery cardboard village.

Back in the dining room I have set out the candles on my craft cupboard flanked by a couple of my favorite nutcrackers, this will have to move to the back bedroom soon to make room for the tree this weekend.

The old world Santas are usually in the living room, this year they find themselves on a book case. I think they look nice next to all the colorful books.

More glittery deer! When I was at Target I wasn't sure about these black reindeer, but I didn't want to leave them and regret it later, which I often do, which necessitates a drive back into town often to find that what I passed on is now sold out, so since they were on sale, I decided it wouldn't hurt. Well it turns out they look pretty cool flanking our TV on the entertainment stand. :)

I also found this cute chalkboard style sign in a dollar bin and it matches the black and red reindeer and our entertainment stand.

I love this cute retro Christmas village that is printed onto wooden boards, I found it on clearance at CB2 this past spring, and I love it, the colors match with everything else in my living room. I decorated around it with glitter star-bursts, and glitter Christmas balls. I also put two glittered red trees behind the village, they reminded me of the tinsel trees that shopping centers would put up in the parking lots when I was a child back in the seventies and early eighties.

Here is the coffee shop up close, with a figure from my very first village, I put out this fellow enjoying his coffee every year. :)

I love the Thrift shop as well, this little village reminds me of shopping in Portland! The set also came with a bar, but we are teetotalers here, so no bars in the Christmas decor, lol! Fortunately three buildings were a better fit for this cabinet anyway.

Well that's the end of my Christmas Home Tour, I look forward to sharing our tree decorations next week. 
I hope everyone is having a nice start tot he holiday season! 

I am also hosting a Christmas Homemaking Hop this December, please stop by and link up your holiday posts. 

April's Homemaking

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

2014 Christmas Homemaking Hop

The holidays are in full swing and we are all as busy as Christmas elves! Thanksgiving was wonderful and we celebrated it a little differently this year, I will be sharing about our Thanksgiving as well as all of the other holiday activities we've been up to in my next post. For now though, I thought I would take a break from decorating to start up my 2014 Christmas Homemaking Hop!

This past autumn I hosted my 2014 Harvest Hop and had 101 posts shared! You can check out all of the great fall ideas though the link below.

April's Homemaking

I had so much fun hosting the Harvest hop I thought I would do one for Christmas. Throughout the month of December please feel free to stop by and link up you favorite, family friendly, Christmas and holiday posts, recipes, crafts, decor and holiday activities.

April's Homemaking


Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Autumn Backyard Birds and Happy Thanksgiving

I am really looking forward to this holiday weekend, as well as the start to the Christmas season. We have all been busy this week, the kids have been busy studying for finals week, and Gary and I just finished a garage organizing project that we were glad to get done. During all of the busy activity I often need a little downtime, and one of my favorite ways to relax is to sit down and watch all of my backyard birds at the feeders out in my yard. Now that the colder weather has arrived the birds are happy to visit our bird feeders, and we have had quite a variety of different birds as well as our resident sparrows all through the garden.

The sparrows live in our garden year round they are always flying around through the garden and enjoying the feeders as well as any bread I put out for them.

I don't see the red headed finch much in the summer, mostly it is gold finch, but in the fall and through the early spring, the red headed finch show up at the feeders. I love the beautiful red coloring on their heads and touches of red on their back feathers, they are so pretty!

Also when the colder weather arrives we have cute little black capped chickadees hopping around eating at the feeders as well as cleaning up seed that the finch and sparrows have kicked out to the ground.

The blue jays stop by from time to time, it is definitely time to put out suet for them which they really seam to enjoy. We also have visits from crows when I put out bread or crackers. The crows are so intelligent, they walk around carefully investigating the yard, and then hopping down for bread or crackers. We have seen some of the crows pick up crackers and stack them in their beak when they get three or four crackers they fly off, it is really something to see! :)

I just love their cute quizzical little expressions like this little bird below, so cute, I could watch them for hours!

To get ready for Thanksgiving, I have set out some of our favorite fall decor. In my dining room, which also serves as my crafting space, I decided to set out my new favorite crafting supply, washi tape. I put it out in one of my wooden bowls, with pine cones and wooden spools of twine and ribbon that I will need for holiday wrapping projects. To organize the washi tape I have put the rolls onto drift wood sticks so I can easily pick them up and decide what pattern I might want to use. The colorful tape looks pretty among the natural objects and adds another element of color to my already colorful bookcases! I am looking forward to crafting with my washi tape for Christmas!

I also recently got this cute little wooden music box from Magic Cabin, I enjoy Magic Cabin's selection and have found many treasures there over the years. I thought this little music box, with its dancing royals and bright orange color, would be nice to set out for fall.

The rest of my decor are my favorites that I set out every year, you can see some of them in my Autumn Home post from last year. :)

I hope everyone has a nice Thanksgiving celebration, stop by this weekend for the Christmas Blog Hop I will be hosting. :) I am looking forward to all of the fun Christmas projects I have in mind!

Happy Thanksgiving! 

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

My Sister's Baby Shower- Appetizer Buffet, Desserts, Games, and Favors

This past weekend I had the pleasure of hosting my little sister's baby shower. We are all excited to be welcoming a new baby to our family. It has been quite a few years since we have had a little one in the family, and I am super excited! I had a really fun time planning her shower and thought I would share some of the activities, games, and foods that we had at the shower.

Everything was decorated in light pink with touches of other pastel colors like yellow. Since my sister is having a little girl I had fun making our dessert buffet very pink themed.

I made classic Madeline cookies dusted with powdered sugar, mini chocolate cupcakes with pink cream cheese frosting, I made a whole tower of crispy rice squares dyed pink which ended up looking really pretty. I also set out an assortment of pink candies from the party store, like rock candy, jelly beans, and butter mints.  I have to say the dessert table is always a hit with the little ones, they love to nibble on the candy. I set out little plastic bags for the kids (and adults too) to take home a small bag of candy. :)

Earlier this year I added to my turquoise moon and star glass collection, and they looked beautiful filled with all the pink candies. Most recently I added a tiny candle holder as well as a tooth pick holder that I used in the appetizer buffet to hold toothpicks. I just love old fashioned glass dishes!

I went with an owl theme and found these cute decorations at Amazon.

I also decorated with pink and white tulips and carnations which I arranged in my green mason jars for the different tables. I have a good sized mason jar collection now which is so useful for entertaining. I used the mini glass jelly jars as drink cups, with pink striped paper straws. The jelly jars also were the perfect holders for the pencils and pens for our games and crafts. I set out little compote dishes with butter mints and cracker munchies at various tables as well.

We had a very large turn out and my little house was happily full of people. Since I knew we would have a lot of people and table space was at a premium our activity had to be relatively simple. I searched on Pinterest and found many people had done diaper decorating for all of those night time diaper changes. So we all decorated a basket full of little diapers with art work, positive messages, and funny messages to encourage my sister and her hubby when they are changing diapers in the middle of the night. :) I set out an assortment of colorful sharpies and everyone had fun decorating the diapers. I found the owl printable for the basket label on Pinterest as well. Isn't Pinterest handy!!

The next game we played was a twist on the game we played at my sisters wedding shower, this time instead of Bridal shower Price is Right, we played Baby Shower Price is Right. I purchased baby necessities all on one receipt. Then printed out a sheet with all the items listed, the participants must guess the closest price, and whoever has the total closest to the correct total wins. I made the game label and game sheet just using basic word program and the included clip art and a french script font with pink ink. I printed it out on cardstock so the paper would be sturdy. This game is always fun, then you can send the mother to be home with all of the baby goodies. :)

Of course one of the best parts of a baby shower is delicious appetizers. So I made a bunch of my favorite appetizers as well as a couple of salads to feed a crowd. I made classic crescent wrapped li'l smokies,  a family favorite ham and onion cream cheese cracker spread, sweet and sour meatballs, a broccoli bacon and raisin salad, classic bacon cheddar crescent pinwheels, and the other appetizers with recipes below. We had pink lemonade, a crock pot full of mulled hot cider with whipped cream and caramel to top it with, and of course hot coffee.

One of the salads I made was a very easy classic Italian Pasta Salad. Just cook and drain two boxes of colored rotini pasta (use one box for a smaller sized salad), then add two medium cans of sliced black olives, a finely chopped red onion, two diced red bell peppers, a small block of cheddar cheese cut into tiny cubes, and toss it all with a bottle of Italian Salad dressing. Then chill until you are ready to serve. This is such an easy recipe and is perfect for buffets and potlucks.

The next appetizer I made was also one I made this past Halloween, and again, it is a classic recipe that always gets nibbled right up. I use the ham that is sliced and rectangle shaped. I thin out softened cream cheese by mixing in a little milk and a spoonful of mayo until it is soft enough to spread, but not so soft the cream cheese will smash out of the roll, use an electric mixer until the cream cheese is nice and smooth. Then spread on a tiny layer of cream cheese, and at one end of the ham lay a mini dill pickle, or two, with the ends already cut off of the pickles, then roll up. I made all of the rolls and then chilled them in the fridge overnight before I sliced them so the cream cheese could harden a bit, it works best to chill them for at least a couple of hours. Then put toothpicks through the pickle roll  at evenly spaced intervals and then slice through, making little rolls. Arrange on a plate like below. This is a nice appetizer since it can be made ahead of time.

I have always wanted to make cream cheese wrap style pinwheel appetizers, but wasn't sure of a recipe. After browsing on Pinterest I found a bunch of yummy ideas for inspiration which I modified to come up with one I wanted.

Mix together-
3 blocks softened cream cheese
1 pack of cooked, cooled, and crumbled bacon
1 bunch chopped green onions
1 small can copped black olives
a dash of ground black pepper to taste

Layer on Spinach and Sun Dried tomato wraps-
a layer of cream cheese mix from above, then
strips of red bell pepper evenly spaced, then
5 slices of turkey

Leave last inch of wrap with only cream cheese mixture and no turkey or bell pepper to act as glue when wrapped. Place toothpicks about and inch or and inch and a half apart along wrap and slice. Arrange on plate and chill until party.

They turned out delicious! I will definitely be making a smaller batch for lunch sometime. :)

We all had fun socializing, playing games, and eating. My sister got so many nice things for her new baby, it was fun picking out girly baby clothes! I can't wait to meet her! When everyone left I passed out little favor bags. The favors were little Bath and Body Works Hand Sanitizers in different pink scents, including one which was perfect for our owl theme, Ms. Owl a berry scented hand sanitizer. I also included little colorful tablets, in a bag tied with pink ribbon and a little clear pink pacifier charm.

It was nice seeing everyone and having a celebration. I have to give a big shout out to my husband and children, I could not have pulled off the party without their help. They all helped with cleaning and decorating and were wonderful assistant chefs in the kitchen! We make a great team! :)

Now that the shower is over I am gearing up for the holidays and am looking forward to all the festivities ahead!

Thanks for reading! :)

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