Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Tree Huggin' Tuesday

So, even though you wrapped all your gifts in reusable grocery bags and the like, *wink, wink* I am sure some of the gifts you will be opening are in paper. Cute paper. So now you get to give that cute paper a second life and make winter decorations. Snowflakes, to be exact. Remember making them in school? I love making snowflakes. It's such a quick, easy, gratifying project. And I'm such a dork. We know that. We work with what we've got. :-)

Just cut square-ish pieces of paper from your pile of used wrapping paper. any size. Last year I made a snowflake that was ~2 feet in diameter. (That was virgin wrapping paper, never wrapped a present at all. In my green defense, it was the last bit on the roll, and I knew we were moving - I was not going to move 2 square feet of wrapping paper. Instead it decorated our glass door until Valentine's Day.) I also made really small ones, and all sizes in between (with the used wrapping paper, of course).

Fold up and cut like you do with normal, computer paper-white paper. Then tape in your windows (walls, mirrors, etc.) and enjoy. Last year our windows were adorned with such a mix-match of different papers, it turned out so cute. And Aubrey really enjoyed helping make them. Lauren helped as much as she could. Andy might've even made a few. I don't remember.

This year (we won't be home at Christmas time) I'll be folding up pieces of wrapping paper and stashing them in my suitcase, for a snowflake making extravaganza when we get home!

Okay, and this green tip is kind of a stretch. I know that. But it is really fun to make them, and, seriously, the patterned wrapping paper turns out such cute snowflakes. So much cuter than boring old white paper. I'll never go back.

Happy Flakin'!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

blessings 5

#30 ~ being able to stay home with my girls. It's been almost painfully obviouis how blessed I am that I can do this the past few months... up and drive to NM to visit a dying Grandmother without a thought... make it to every school performance, no matter how small... coordinate class parties, and not have to miss work to attend said parties... along with getting to spend my days cuddling with Baby Sasha, reading to and playing with Lauren and taxi-ing Aubrey to and fro.

#31 ~ Andy's fish fry. My hubby can fry, really well. Might explain, just a bit, why I need to lose some weight, huh?

#32 ~ Valvoline Instant Oil Change. When they say instant, they mean instant. awesome.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tree Huggin' Tuesday

gift wrapping
some of the gifts we are giving this year are going in reusable grocery bags.

most stores seem to have their own logo on affordable bags, and there are also some cute, cute ones out there.

I got one with the UNM Lobos logo on it, for my mother-in-law's UNM sweatshirt. And I got a cute one from Petsmart for Andy's work gift exchange (no pets in that bag, but a popcorn bowl, bag of kettlecorn and board game).

Michael's has some cute ones. I know because I've walked past them each of the 3,642 times I've been to Michael's the past two weeks. :-)

The presentation is very different, and I won't be wrapping every gift in reusable bags, but if using gift bags is your M.O., then switching a few paper ones for cloth would be an easy switch. And, unless you have a basement full of old gift bags (reusing those is, of course, super green), the cost will be comparable - maybe even more affordable for the cloth bags!

Happy Wrappin',

Monday, December 14, 2009

more blessings

So now that I am conciously thinking of my blessings, it's painfully obvious that I am not always as nice as I could be. It's very tempting to be sarcastic, but that's really not what I want to accomplish in acknowledging my blessings, so I'm reminding myself to take deep breaths. Also, sometimes it's hard to think of my blessings... all the more reason to do this, I think!

#23 ~ Great Grandmother Kailey's sugar cookie recipe, as recorded by Grandma Ruthie in our family cookbook. My new favorite sugar cookie recipe, with just a touch of family history.

#24 ~ Aubrey's honesty. Without hesitation that girl will tell me that my belly is kind of fat. Granted, that's not what I want to hear, but it's undeniable all the same. But she also tells me when my jeans make me look skinny. Also, she raved about the above sugar cookies, "What did you put in these, mom, they are GREAT!" (the answer was vanilla, by the way, it's not some secret, obscure ingredient)

#25 ~ Our cat Oscar. As I type this, he is filling in as 'warm body' next to Sasha.... she's still asleep and I get to be up, moving around. Or sitting down, blogging. But you know what I mean. :-)

#26 ~ Andy's co-workers and their families that we are getting to know better and better.

#27 ~ my creativity. I know there are others out there way more creative than I, but I *love* making pretty things, it makes me feel good.

#28 ~ church breakfast potlucks. Yum.

#29 ~ wii boxing

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

crafting and creating

I really wish I could bottle up all my Christmastime craftiness and creativity, to tap into the whole rest of the year! Seems like I'm overflowing with ideas right now.

Last year Emily posted about her 12 Days of Christmas tradition, and I thought it seemed like such a cool idea, so I copied it. Sort of. It's mostly unrecognizable except for the 12 Days part. Because I wasn't feeling creative enough, didn't have enough money or enouh time, to actually represent the 12 Days (a partridge in a pear tree, two turtle doves, etc.). But, today I am packaging up 12 little boxes and tins, each with some goodies inside, to send to my Grandma's brother, Tio Dick. I decided at Thanksgiving/Marg's funeral that I would send some cheer his way, and then, WHAMOO, his other sister, Mary Jane up and died, within a month of Grandma Marg dying. So, a box full of cheer is most definitely in order!

I bought $1 boxes and tins at Michael's, and I love them. They are so stinkin' cute. Paired with simple tags I made, I really like the way they turned out. If only every thing could be so cute! Each box cost less than $2 to fill... a mini slinky, a ceramic bird ornament, Reece's peanut butter bells, mini candy canes, a few cookies... you get the idea.

AND, I've been making ornaments. I made some very similar to these a few years ago, but this year I added beads. The jury is still out, what do you think?

Tree Huggin' Tuesday

Cleaning Supplies

My favorite cleaning supplies are baking soda and vinegar. If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you probably aren't suprised. :-) This started mostly because the chemical smell of commercial cleaning products induces headaches and drives me mad, but, coincidentally, it's the greener option, as well. Fewer chemicals being washed down the drain to mess with water-living creatures and plants = one happy Mama Earth.

A spray bottle with diluted vinegar does great work on windows, counters, bathtubs (any hard surface), baking soda is great for scrubbing grime and gook, as well as eliminating odors.

Happy Huggin'

(ps - sorry I didn't post last week, I have no good excuse)

Monday, December 7, 2009


Yup, I am in trouble. I've found a recipe that would've been best left unfound, as far as my hips, tush and belly are concerned.

I have a bad habit of collecting recipes, so when there were *free* recipe cards on the candy aisle at Target, I didn't stand a chance. Each card features a chocolate mint recipe. It doesn't matter that we really don't like mint all that much in our house, the recipe cards were *free*. I took a card for each of the recipes.

Andy saw the card for the mint chocolate delights, and said, with no hesitation, "Let's make these, but with peanut butter chips instead of the dark chocolate and mint chips." I should've said no. I should've run the other way with my hands over my ears. I should not have gone to Sam's Club (of all places, seriously?) to buy a 12 pound bag* of peanut butter chips, along with 4 pounds** of butter.

These cookies are amazing. Whoever it was that first put peanut butter with chocolate, well she (or he) should be named a saint. Or burned at the stake. I don't know.

Here's the recipe:

Peanut Butter Chocolate Delights

2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 eggs
2 cups peanut butter chips

Preheat oven to 325'. Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt in medium bowl, set aside. Beat butter, sugars and vanilla in mixer until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually add flour mixture. Stir in chips. Using your cookie scoop (if you are crazy like me and need your cookies to be uniform) or just two regular table spoons, place onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-13 minutes. Cool on sheets for ~2 minutes, then remove to cooling rack or directly to mouth (watch for burning pb chips!). I would love to give you a suggestion as to how best to store these, but eat them all at once, as fast as you can, with milk! really isn't a proper storage method. :-)

*that may be an exaggeration, but the bag is way too big for normal purposes. again, Sam's Club? seriously, Rachel?
** not an exaggeration

No Knead Bread

Seems like there are recipes for this all over the place these days. Here's my version, which originated from MEN's recent article.

7 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1 ½ tablespoons yeast
1 tablespoon salt (or to taste)
4 cups lukewarm water (approx. 100 degrees)

Combine the dry ingredients. Mix with water until everything is uniformly moist. The dough should be wet and loose enough to conform to the shape of its container. Let rise for at least 2 hours, so that it begins to collapse. Refrigerate overnight (or at least 3 hours). DO NOT PUNCH THE DOUGH. As much as you may want to punch it, you need the gas that punching it will release. Resist the temptation!

On baking day, dust the dough with just enough flour that you can grab a grapefruit-sized ball (or really, whatever size you want). Plop said dough on a floured mat (I use my cutting board) and let it rest for about 90 minutes.
30 minutes before you want to bake your loaf, turn your oven to 450’. Make sure your cookie sheet (or pizza stone) is in the oven during the preheat – you want it nice and toasty warm. When your 30 minutes is up, slide your loaf from mat to cookie sheet. I have yet to figure out how to do this gracefully, my loaf usually rolls off the mat, reshaping itself as it goes. Place an oven-safe container with water in the oven – this moisture will help your crust to crust itself. Don’t you love my technical terms and explanations?

Bake for 30 minutes (adjust the time for smaller or bigger loaves).

This dough can stay in the fridge for 2 weeks, and you can bake it, one grapefruit-sized handful at a time. As the dough sits in the fridge, it will become sourdough. Yummy!

blessings 3

#15 ~ my kitchenaid mixer (and the oh-so-delicious chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips that said mixer mixed yesterday!)

#16 ~ friends at church who are always ready with a smile and hug, and who worry about me when they don't see me every Sunday

#17 ~ Santa, Mrs. Claus and their many helpers who spent their Friday evening here in our little town, entertaining so many little ones

#18 ~ Mother Earth News magazine. Their website is pretty cool, too.

#19 ~ my body, and all the amazing things it is capable of

#20 ~ Ragu. For years we made our own spaghetti sauce, but right now we are really enjoying the sweet flavor, not to mention the extreme simplicity of just popping open the jar!

#21 ~ Christmas carols

#22 ~ homemade bread

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Christmas Movies

THAT is why I miss having cable. More than anything else, I miss having the Hallmark channel and the Lifetime Movie Network channel during December. I could put my tv on LMN and leave it there all day, every day. I love love LOVE cheesy, made-for-tv Christmas movies.

I don't miss nick jr or noggin, though I know the girls do. I don't miss the history channel, discovery or anything educational and informative like that. MTV and VH1, not a chance. Nope. I just miss 24/7 access to cheesy, made-for-tv Christmas movies.

Really, I know we don't need cable. Life is too full and busy to justify having cable. But dude, I miss my Christmas movies.

Cute dogs!

Daisy Mae's cousins have entered a contest, and you know how these online voting contests go, right? So, here's Lily's page, and here's Grace's page. If you are so inclined, Daisy Mae, currently snoring on my kitchen rug, would appreciate your voting for either of Grace or Lily, or both! (Grace, Lily and their human parents would appreciate it, too!)

Oh, and Daisy Mae is not entering this contest. Either she knows she's too cute, and wants to give other doggies a chance, or she knows she's just too dang ugly to have a shot, and doesn't want to be embarassed. You can decide, because I'm not sure myself, and I live with her! :-)