Tuesday, December 31, 2013

New Years Eve Paper Lantern Garland and Glittered Clocks


Happy New Year's Eve!  I spent the day yesterday with the family putting away Christmas decor, and getting ready to ring in the new year.  I was inspired to be a little crafty and had some fun and simple decorations in mind.  I thought I would share how to make these easy New Year's decorations.

I wanted to make my New Year decorations mostly out of simple white copy paper, the first craft I made were simple glittered clocks.  There are many clock faces available to print online, I found some at a teaching website ( printable clocks link ).  I printed them out in black and white and cut out the few I wanted, especially the clock striking midnight, and I printed them out in various sizes.  I glued the clock faces down to card stock, and cut them out, and using gel glitter glue added tinsel silver glitter to the edges.  Regular silver glitter would work too, I am just partial to the Martha Stewart Tinsel glitter for it's old fashioned look.  I also glittered a Happy New Year 2014 sign to add to the table.  Here are how the clocks turned out.


I tucked the little glittered clocks throughout my dining room decor.  I kept out some of the glittery floral picks from Christmas, and some of the silver glittered Christmas balls to use as New Year's Eve decor.  I love the way they turned out!  If I had more time I would love to make some glittered clocks with a aged newsprint background, and maybe some different paper fringes, but I will have to save that for next year!

The next craft I made were little paper lanterns.  I have been making paper lanterns since I was a child in school, I have made them many times over the years with different colored papers for all the different holidays.  This past week I was watching a British Mystery on PBS and they kept showing little paper lanterns that some children were crafting, and so I was inspired to make some for New Year's Eve.  I knew right away I wanted to make them to match my clocks with plain white copy paper, and of course some more silver glitter!  They are super easy to make, here is a quick tutorial.


Supplies- Regular white copy paper, glue stick, scissors, single hole puncher, glue and glitter.

Fold a piece of paper in half, like shown above, and cut it into two equal sized pieces. Take one of the pieces and fold it in half again this time fold on the long side, see above.  Cut lines about 1/2 an inch apart, all along the folded edge, but not all the way through to the top, stop about half an inch from the top, I drew blue lines on the paper above in the tutorial pictures so you can see the type of cuts to make.  Cut all the way along the paper stopping half and inch from the end.


Once you have finished your cuts, unfold the paper, and glue on one end as shown in the picture above with the glue stick and the blue line showing were to apply the glue.  Fold it around and hold together for a moment while the glue adheres.  That is your basic paper lantern.


When you have made as many as you want, punch two holes in the top so you can string them up on some yarn as a garland.  Then using gel glue apply a thin bead to the top and bottom and sprinkle on some silver glitter.  When they are dry, string them on some white yarn and hang them up.  I also made a few to set around the table.


 I love the way all the decorations turned out!  I am just about ready to ring in the New Year!


We have a basket set out with our old fashioned clackers, and I am about to head to the store to make sure I am all stocked up on snacks for the evening.  The kids are having a few friends over and I am looking forward to a fun evening!

Happy New Year!  Have a fun and safe evening!


Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas 2013 and Two Festive Salads


We are still in the midst of our twelve days of Christmas here, and will be heading out soon to celebrate some more with friends of ours.  This year we have had a very nice Christmas celebration, we have spent a lot of time with family and friends with plenty of good food and treats.  I really enjoyed catching up with my family, it is so nice to see everyone!


We all had fun Christmas morning exchanging gifts, even the dogs got in on the action and had fun opening their Christmas squeaky ducks and dog treats in their stocking.  We all agree that the dog gifts are just as much a gift for the whole family, because the dogs are so fun to watch with their new treats, very entertaining!

This year I had a lot of fun with a gift that I made for my mom, sisters, and grandma. I have spent quite a bit of time organizing old family photos, and getting them scanned onto the computer, so I decided to make a photo book of our mom and her family and me and my sisters through the years.  I made the book at Walmart.com and I was very happy with how it turned out, everyone really enjoyed looking through all the old photos. I also included two sections of Christmas Past pictures, one set from the 50's and 60's and another set of the 70's and 80's, it was so fun to see the old styles of Christmas decor and types of gifts.


I titled the book A Walk Down Memory Lane, and for the cover photo, since I couldn't choose one picture, I decided to take a picture of a random pile of some of our vintage family photos, I really liked how it turned out! This was a very fun Christmas project!

On Christmas Eve we celebrated with Gary's family, his mother brought over Chicago Beef sandwiches which she had ordered all the way from Chicago from Portillos.com, Gary and his family are from Chicago, and being in Oregon we don't get to enjoy these classic Chicago treats too often, they were delicious!

On Christmas day I had my family over, and we had a Christmas lunch buffet, I made croissant sandwiches, with chips and dips, and a couple of salads and BBQ Little Smokey's. We had lots of Christmas cookies on hand to nibble on, as well as plenty of Candy Canes and Old Fashioned Ribbon candy (shown in the picture at the top of the page).  I thought I would share my two salad recipes from the day.  I made a classic Lime Christmas Ambrosia and my favorite salad, Broccoli, Bacon and Raisin salad.



Ingredients-
1 cup hot water
a few ice cubes
1- 6 oz package of lime Jell-O
2- 8 oz. tubs of cool whip
3- 15 1/4 oz cans of fruit cocktail
1 bag mini marshmallows
maraschino cherries for garnishing

In a large bowl combine Jello with 1 cup hot water stir until mostly dissolved, if the jello is still hot, add a few ice cubes and swirl around in jello until jello has cooled, remove any left over ice cubes. Add in both tubs of Cool Whip, and stir into the Jello, when the jello and cool whip are combined drain the cans of fruit and add the drained fruit into the Jello and cool whip, then fold in about 3/4 of the bag of mini marshmallows, fold it all together until combined.  Cover and chill in the fridge until the Ambrosia is set up which takes about 3-4 hours.  When you are ready to serve garnish the top with halves of maraschino cherries.  This recipe makes a pretty huge bowl full, and is meant to serve a large gathering of people and is the perfect size for a potluck, you could easily cut this recipe in half if you only needed it for a family sized meal.  This classic ambrosia is a nice sweet side dish, the kids seem to really enjoy it, I make a version with orange jello and mandarin oranges for Easter.

The next salad is a favorite in our family, Broccoli, Bacon, and Raisin Salad, this is a very easy salad to make and is always delicious for special meals and potlucks.




Ingredients-
A large bunch of fresh broccoli
1 package of bacon cooked and crumbled into small pieces
regular raisins (and golden raisins too if desired)
1 red onion
Mayonnaise
Milk
apple cider vinegar
sugar

I did not include amounts in this recipe because I make it according to how big of a bowl I want to make, and go by the look and taste of it.  When I am making this salad for a large group or for a potluck I buy two full produce bags of broccoli, the type without the large stems.  I start by cleaning the broccoli and cutting off the flowerettes into nice bite sized pieces, I do not use stem pieces at all.  Add the broccoli to a large mixing bowl, along with the cooked and crumbled bacon ( I made a really large salad for a group of 17 people so I added two packages of cooked and crumbled bacon), add between 1 and 2 cups of raisins depending on how much broccoli you have, add between half to a whole finely chopped red onion ( you don't want too much onion, just enough for a little zest, I only add a whole onion if I am making a huge bowl of salad) Toss ingredients together and set aside.  The dressing is also one of those recipes you have to taste to get right, and also make enough for the size of your salad.  Start with 1 cup of mayo and thin it with 1/8th cup of milk, add two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar and two teaspoons of sugar, stir to combine.  The dressing should be thin enough to easily toss with the salad, and not heavily coat it, if it is too thick add a bit more milk.  The dressing should be a touch sweet and have that bite of apple cider vinegar, I usually add a smidge more sugar and vinegar until I get the right balance, if you need a larger batch double the recipe so there will be enough for the size of salad.  When you are happy with the dressing, drizzle it over broccoli salad, and toss to lightly coat.  This salad is best when the flavors have a chance to mingle for a bit, I like to chill mine for at least an hour or two before serving.  The salty bacon and sweet raisins really complement the broccoli and the whole family loves it, it is also a hit at potlucks and disappears right away!

The whole day was a lot of fun.  I really enjoyed all the time with family!  I am looking forward to the New Year and have some fun easy New Years crafts that I am working on for decorations.  I hope everyone had a nice Christmas!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

O Christmas Tree

One week until Christmas Eve!  This past weekend was full of Christmas fun, Sarah and Joseph performed in the Singing Christmas Tree, and in between that, throughout the week, we have slowly been decorating our Christmas Tree.

This year's Singing Christmas Tree had the theme "Christmas in Oz" all the singers had to dress up as people in Oz dressed for Christmas.  This is how Sarah and Joe's costumes turned out.


Here is a little glimpse at the Singing Christmas Tree event.  Singing Christmas Tree is a yearly tradition of ours that we enjoy every year.


In addition to the Singing Christmas Tree, this week we have been decorating our Christmas tree.  Normally we decorate the tree in one day, this year it has taken us all week, and we still are not completely done. Now that the kids are older they are much busier, so we have been decorating it in 20 minute increments! 

We are lucky to live in Clackamas County, Oregon, the largest producer in the Country of live Christmas trees, and our county is were the majority in Oregon are grown.  When you drive past the large tree farms all through November and December the air completely smells of Christmas trees.  Earlier in the month we drove by a farm using a helicopter to help with the harvest, so we stopped for a bit to watch and take pictures.  


As you can imagine, trees are available on every corner in town, the last few years we have purchased our tree from the same lot, we always find the one we like right away. Our car always looks very Griswaldy driving back home!


Here's our Christmas Tree!


We have been collecting ornaments as a family for 20 years, and I also have some from when I was a child. We have had many different themes over the years and have quite an eclectic mix of ornaments.  This year our tree is a mix of all of our favorites, from Victorian to Mid-Century Modern, from Scandinavian Rustic to Modern Pop-Culture Hallmark Ornaments, our tree has it all!  It's a bit jumbled, but fun to look at!  


Hope everyone is having a nice week before Christmas!

Thanks for reading!


Thursday, December 12, 2013

Our Christmas House 2013

Christmas is just two weeks away, and I have been busy busy getting the house and gifts ready. I thought I would take a break from some of my projects and do a quick post of our Christmas home.

This year I added some new metallic decorations to my cardboard village in the foyer, I love the updated look, I also swapped out the white "snow" blanket I normally use for brown burlap.



I also brought silver into the dining room with a new antiqued silver glitter birdcage, a mercury glass owl, and some icy, silver floral picks, I like the way the silver works with my wooden and paperboard pieces. You can see the fox worked into the winter setting, I kept him out from my fall decor.  I also have my Olive Wood Nativity set on the table, and my Celtic Nativity set on a nearby bookcase.


We display our tree in the dining room as well, I will do a separate post about our tree, but I wanted to bring some color into the wood and silver decor, so the tree wouldn't be completely out of place with its colorful family decorations.  I love the old jolly Santa in the top photo, he was displayed on my Grandma's mantle when I was a small child, and I have had him on display in our home since my children were babies, I also have a new tall Santa to match my felt trees on the bookcase, and a few little pine cone elves.  I also tuck in little decorations around the books on the bookcase.  Just enough color added to match the tree. :)


Down the hallway on the way to the living room I have a little side table where I display my little glittery wooden village, with floral picks and ornaments in the background. On the lover shelf I display some cast iron pine cone candle holder and floral picks around my salt lamp, only heavy objects for the lower shelf as my curious younger lab Zoey likes to rearrange the display with her nose or add her tennis ball to the display, - nothing delicate would stand up to her "decorating".


In the living room I like to decorate with reds and dark greens.  I love to display my old world Santa's with greenery in the background and red twinkle lights above the fireplace.


We also have quite a few nutcrackers on display, even the Rat King! 


Our carolers are on display every year, as well as a few of our favorite Christmas dolls and pillows.


Lastly, this week Gary surprised me with a pretty musical snow globe, it was the perfect addition to my little side table.  What a nice surprise that was, Thanks Gary!


So that wraps up the tour of our Christmassy home.  Tonight the kids perform in the annual Singing Christmas Tree here in town, the next few nights will be busy with a few more shows. Sunday we will spend the day putting decorations on our tree which is all lit up and waiting for decorations.  Then its time to begin filling the house with Christmas cookie goodness.  I am looking forward to all the holiday fun over the weekend!

Thanks for reading. :)


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Turkey and Stuffing Roll Ups and Holiday Prep


The holidays are in full swing around our home, we enjoyed a nice Thanksgiving this year, the kids had a little time off from school, and we used the time to play some board games and relax. I prepared a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with all of the classics from Turkey and stuffing to yams with marshmallows.  We ended up with plenty of leftovers, which I think is nice.  I decided to turn some of those leftovers into a yummy baked roll up.  My kids enjoy leftovers better if they are turned into something new, they all enjoyed this leftover recipe!

Here's how I made our Turkey and Stuffing Roll Ups.



First gather your leftovers, you'll need prepared stuffing, chopped up cooked turkey with a bit of gravy added to it and mixed in, some shredded cheese, and some crunched up French's French Fried Onions, and a tube or two of crescent roll dough depending on how many you are feeding.

On a piece of wax paper roll out one tube of the crescent roll dough, and press the seems together so it forms a sheet of dough (they also sell tubes now that are already a sheet, I need to try them out). Then put a layer of stuffing on the dough like shown. Then add a layer of chopped up turkey that has been mixed with gravy to add a little moisture. Sprinkle on some French Fried Onions and top with a thin sprinkling of cheese.


Then start rolling from the long end, use the wax paper to help roll it, and continue tucking in the ingredients, and rolling it firmly.  When you get to the end, pull the dough from the other end up, and pinch it to the side to form a seal.  Using a sharp knife, cut slices about 1/2 to 3/4 on an inch, you can cut out between 10-12 slices from each tube of dough used. Lay them on a parchment lined baking sheet, top each slice with a tiny sprinkle of cheese, and bake at 375 F. for about 10-12 minutes until they are golden brown.



They turned out delicious, and were the perfect way to use holiday leftovers. I served them along with some of our other leftovers, but I think they would be good along with a salad for lunch as well.  I will definitely be making these again!

Besides cooking up leftovers, I am also getting the house decorated for Christmas.  I am usually decorated for Christmas well before December 1st, but with Thanksgiving so late this year I am a bit behind schedule. Every year I get out my totes of Christmas decor, and decide where I'll put everything.  To update my decor I bought a few new Christmas floral picks to tuck in around the decorations I already have.  Of course, decorating is much more enjoyable with a yummy peppermint mocha! :)


I am hoping to have my house decorated in the next day or two, and then this weekend we will go pick out our tree, and have some fun decorating it with the whole family.  Hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving! Enjoy all of your Christmas preparations! :)

   

Monday, November 18, 2013

Hamburger Rice Bowls and Easy Hamburger Patties

Today I thought I would share one of my favorite quick fix dinners - Hamburger Rice Bowls.  This dinner is inspired by a dinner my grandma used to make when I was a child, and was always one of my favorites, Hamburger Patties in Gravy over rice.  My grandma would cook up hamburger patties, and then let them simmer in cream of celery soup (which gives them a wonderful taste) then serve the patties with the cream of celery soup "gravy" over rice.  Today I make multiple variations of this recipe.

Hamburger Rice Bowls


Hamburger Rice Bowls make an easy week night dinner.  I start with frozen patties, I recently learned a trick for making and storing hamburger patties from my mother-in-law, I will share how to do that below.  You can also use pre-made frozen hamburger patties, which are quite a bit larger, but will still do the trick.

Another trick I learned from my mother-in-law, is to prepare your hamburger patties in the oven, rather than on the stove top- I used to avoid cooking hamburger patties on the stove top because of the greasy mess it would make- cooking them in the oven is much easier!  Just lay out your hamburger patties in a layer on a rimmed baking sheet, sprinkle the tops with Lawry's Seasoning salt (or your favorite seasoning), and bake at 375 F. until they are thoroughly cooked through, I flip them once, halfway through cooking.  Cooking time will vary based on thickness of patties.  I make my patties rather thin, so they cook quickly.


 Here are the patties all cooked up and ready to go.


While the hamburger patties are cooking, I also have my rice cooking.  I use a rice steamer, which I love, we eat a lot of rice around here and the rice steamer is really wonderful for making big batches of rice, of course you can also make it on the stove top following package directions.  My favorite rice is Golden Star Jasmine Rice, I love the flavor and the way it cooks up.  For this recipe, I also steamed a bag of broccoli, and prepared some brown gravy.

You can use your own recipe for classic brown gravy or use a gravy packet to make up a quick batch if you don't have any beef broth on hand.  To assemble, just scoop a serving of rice in a bowl, add the hamburger patty, and broccoli, and ladle on some gravy.  This meal is super easy, and surprisingly filling, the whole family loves it.


Variations- You can make this recipe with cream of celery soup (one of my favorites) or cream of mushroom soup as the gravy, and serve the veggies on the side.  You can swap out the veggies, and instead top the hamburger patty with a fried egg and brown gravy for Hawaiian style "Loco Moco" , my kids weren't too keen on the fried egg version, but I love it!

Here's how my mother-in-law taught me to make easy frozen hamburger patties.  I buy hamburger in large family packs, and split up the package into meal sized portions to put in the freezer, some of the hamburger I turn into these patties.  I put about a pound and a half of hamburger into a gallon sized freezer bag, then flatten it out so it spreads the meat to the side and bottom of the freezer bag ( I leave at least an inch or two from the top of the bag so it will close easily) You can flatten it using a rolling pin or just press it down inside the bag until it is uniformly flat.  Then start forming the little square patties using a flat spatula ( I love my wooden flat spatulas, one of my favorite kitchen tools!)  Press a line down a portion of the hamburger like shown in the picture below, make sure to press all the way through the hamburger, so the patties will freeze separately, careful not to tear the freezer bag.


I separate each bag into 9 patties just like shown below.  You may want to separate them into 6 patties if you want them to cook up a little larger for tradition hamburgers on buns.


Carefully close the top of the zipper bag to remove any air and thoroughly seal, then lay it in the freezer, being careful not to smash the patties, so they remain separate.  The nice thing about them being packed flat like this is, is that they store nicely in the freezer.


Whenever you are ready to make them, they pop right out of the bag!


When I first saw my mother in law making hamburgers like this for us one Sunday for lunch, I was impressed by how quickly they cooked up, and was eager to try it myself.  Definitely my new favorite kitchen tip! 

Thanks for stopping by!

     

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

My Autumn Home and An Autumn Drive

This weekend was nice, with the Veterans' Day Holiday break, we all had a much needed rest from our busy fall schedule.  We had time to play some board games together, and spent some quiet time around the house, it was just what we all needed!

Last week, Gary and I took a short drive just outside of town, and had fun taking pictures of all the autumn beauty around us.  This is one of my favorite barns, it always begs for a picture.


We always love driving over the river, the trees were beautiful!



In town, the lumber yard is busy, busy, and full of timber.


This is my favorite little silo, I love how it is tucked behind the tree.


Here is the silo from a different angle so you can see the whole thing.


I always enjoy a drive through our surrounding countryside, I love all the trees, old barns and outbuildings. Getting out for a short drive is always refreshing to me.  I'm glad we were able to go when we did, because a few days later we had such a blustery day a lot of the trees lost a good portion of their leaves.

The house is all decorated for Thanksgiving, and full of my autumn treasures.  I love my little Yankee Candle Nut Babies.


Most of our fall decor pieces are old favorites that we enjoy bringing out every year.  This year I was excited when I found a few new pieces, this darling little fox is one I added this year, he was calling my name from a fall clearance shelf.  He is so cute, I'm not sure he will get packed away, he may have to stay out year round!


I also added two pieces to my tin wind-up toy collection, and I thought they looked nice among the fall decor.  I fell in love with this tin toy, the loggers are sawing through a log! I love the little mushrooms along the bottom border!


Here is a video of this toy in action.

video


Just when I thought I was done adding to my tin toy collection for the time being, I came across these pecking chickens, and couldn't resist.  I love chickens and miss raising them, so this little flock will have to tide me over for now.


Here they are in action.

video

So that is my fall home. :)  Thanks for stopping by!

You might also enjoy my post from last winter's frozen fog drive, some of the same pictures but all in their winter glory.