Thursday, December 30, 2010

New books and my first project!

new books

For Christmas I got 5 new craft books!! All ones I had picked out especially because they are things I can do easily by hand and are pretty portable. Mostly, things I can do sitting and watching TV after the kids have gone to bed. :)

Anyway, after flipping through the books a few times I started picking out my first project to make. And here they are...


Aren't those just super cute coasters?? They were super simple and fairly quick to make. It took me 3 evenings of about an hour each - so easily an afternoon project if you have time to do it all at once. I want to make more... and probably will.

Check out the detail from the hand stitching... I love it!
Coasters - details

The project came from this awesome little book, Appliqué Your Way by Kayte Terry. There are some seriously cute projects in there. I can't wait to try more.

I'm thinking that these would be a fun sell on Etsy... what do you think? Would you buy them?

Speaking of Etsy... Desiree and I have been working hard to get our new Etsy shop up and running. Hopefully we will have a few items ready to list this weekend... so stay tuned for more updates on that! I'm excited about this one!

p.s.  I love followers of my blog... encourage me more, click that little follow button in the sidebar on the right :)  Thanks!!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

This blog needs a new design

So I've been trying to figure out my blog strategy for the new year... I want to do better about posting things on a regular basis, and I want to update the site design... Any ideas?

I've been searching for some good templates and am coming up with the realization that I am just going to have to design my own. Hopefully I'll have something new out soon.

In the mean time, let me leave you with a really awesome picture that I got of NK tonight while I was playing with my camera. Enjoy! :)


Monday, December 27, 2010

How was your Christmas?

I haven't blogged about any of my projects because they were all Christmas gifts... and so now that Christmas is over and the gifts have been given I'll finally be able to share them with you! I promise... they are coming soon (tonight maybe even)...

We had a great Christmas! We spent Christmas Eve with my family and Christmas Day with my husband's family. Then, we spent all day yesterday at home trying to recoup. Probably the most exciting and unexpected gift was that of a white Christmas here in Alabama!! I had heard that we'd probably have a few flurries, and when I looked out the window on Saturday morning, there was actually a nice light blanket of snow covering the grass and a little on the roads. I expected that to be all we'd get and for it to mostly be gone by the time we left the house for the day... but it wasn't! As the kids opened their gifts under our tree I kept looking out the window in disbelief that the snow just kept falling harder and harder. Larger flakes too. it was great!


I haven't had a white Christmas since we lived in Alaska... in like 1993. And it's been even longer than that since there has been snow on Christmas Day here in Alabama (since 1989 I think I heard someone say - I remember that one well too).

Ahhh... ok, enough of that. I'll be back later this evening with a post about all my Christmas gift crafts...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

December Daily: 15

Day 15: cleaning...

December Daily: 15

Today I got out of work early due to bad weather (it was supposedly icy), so I had a chance to go home and get some major work done around the house. I set out to get some sort of order put back in our bedroom. This room has become the “dump it in there because no one else will see it” room, and it had been bothering me for awhile.I got a lot of junk cleaned out and clothes put away, or in to the dirty laundry pile. It kind of looks like a real bedroom now. I still have a lot of work to do (stuff to storage, finish cleaning the closet, paint the walls, build the headboard, etc.) but at least I was able to make some sort of dent in the project. I feel much better now.

December Daily: 14

Day 14: A Visit from Aunt Whitney

December Daily: 14

Tonight, Aunt Whitney came over to play! The girls had a great time running, jumping and being tossed around. They also enjoyed reading “Vroom” (A.K.A. “Cars” you know, the movie) on Nora’s new V-Reader. Yes, it’s crazy... my 2 year old has her very own e-reader.

December Daily: 13

Day 13: New Work Home

December Daily: 13

Ahhh... my new home! Work home at least. Today was my first full day as an employee of the Employee Learning & Development Department. We are in the middle of some reorganization of our division and my job got moved from Marketing to ELD. I’m super excited about this move! I love the group that I am working with now and think that this will definitely be a great fit! Even though my desk is about half the size that I am used to, I still fit everything in it too! That’s an extra bonus... I was afraid I was going to have to get rid of something...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

December Daily: 12

Day 12: First tiny bit of snow!

December Daily: 12

Today, we got our first snow of the season. It definitely wasn’t much to talk about, but it was still pretty cool to see. We hoped it would come down really hard, but sadly we only got a dusting. There were birds all over our back yard most of the morning, and I was actually able to get some pretty decent shots with Whitney’s zoom lens that I had borrowed from her.

December Daily: 11

Day 11: Addressing Christmas Cards

December Daily: 11

I LOVE sending out Christmas Cards. I get excited trying to pick out the most pefect card for us, and try to get the best family photo to use. This year I didn’t like any of the card designs that I made, but I did find a great little card company to use. It was so hard to decide which design to get, so I picked out two. Even then it was difficult to narrow it down to just the two, but I did it and they turned out great! I hope everyone enjoys their cards this year!

December Daily: 10

Day 10: Out on the town!

December Daily: 10

Friday night we went out to Humphrey’s to celebrate Samantha’s graduation with her & Grant, and some of their friends. It had been years since Jeremy or I had been out to a bar! We had a great time though. Samantha thought it was really cool that you could see her (spray) “tan” in the photos we took. *She got the spray tan in preparation for their Carribbean cruise that they were leaving for on Sunday. - she doesn’t normally go around getting a tan in the middle of winter.

December Daily: 9

Day: 9 Just another evening at the Walliser house...

December Daily: 9

Just a regular ol weekday evening for us tonight. Got home from work and hung out with the girls. Sarah was quite the cheese when she saw me get the camera out. Don’t you just LOVE that sweet little smile?

December Daily: 8

Day 8: Our new tree

December Daily: 8

Our brand new pre-lit tree...
We had been using my parents old fake tree for awhile, but it was just time for it to go (loosing needles mostly), and even though they gave us a new one (brand new, 9 foot), we still couldn’t use it (it was too tall). So we had to go get a new tree anyway. Found a great deal on this one, and the best part (according to Jeremy) was that it was pre-lit. His least favorite thing to do is to put the lights on the tree, so this worked out perfectly! Not too bad huh?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

December Daily: 7

Day 7: Advent Calendars

December Daily: 7

December Daily: 7

Tonight we finally opened up our Advent calendars that Grandma Judy gave us. The evenings of the previous days had just been a bit busy or we had already had enough sweets for the day. The girls really enjoyed getting a special little chocolatey treat and playing witht he little tear windows on the packaging. I have a feeling that there will be some nights that we just won’t get to this little treat. Hopefully next year will be different.

December Daily: 6

Day 6: Nora's 2 Year Checkup

December Daily: 6

This morning I got to hang out with my girls for a little bit and Grandma Kathy came over a little later than usual. Nora had her 2 year checkup scheduled so we got to hang out for a bit by ourselves. She got a great report - a happy, healthy 2 year old! Nora weighs 24 lbs and is 34 in tall. She was very curious about all the instruments that Dr. Bryant was using and asked to see them. Nora was very excited to not have to get any shots this visit too! When we left, she got to choose either a sticker or a lolly pop, of course she choose the candy - she is my kid!

**The plan is to add some patterned paper and other embellishment to the top part of this one

I'm so behind...

Tonight I am going to sit down and get my December Daily pages caught up. I've got to download photos from my cameras and edit as necessary. I WILL have more ready tonight! :)

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

December Daily: 5

Day 5: Nora turns 2!!

December Daily: 5

December Daily: 5

Nora is 2!!! I can’t believe how fast the past two years have gone by! Two years ago, I spent a week in the hospital before they induced me at 34 weeks and 5 days, I had preeclampsia. I was scared to death! Nora was born at 4 lbs 12 oz and spent the first 2 weeks of her life in the NICU at Huntsville Hospital. Now here she is a whopping 24 lbs (yes, still a little small) and a super healthy, happy kid. Nora, the past 2 years have flown by... quit growing up so fast! We love you!

Monday, December 6, 2010

December Daily: 4

Day 4: Samantha's Graduation and a SEC Championship Game

December Daily: 4

Congratulations Samantha! Today Samantha graduated from UAHuntsville! She has worked so hard for this, and finally is finished with school. We wish her lots of luck in finding a new job in her field (Human Resources). The whole family is so proud of you Sam!
I was nervous about taking Sarah to the ceremony (Nora was with Grandma & Grandpa Shepard) but she was very good... just a little squirmy, but other than that (which was expected anyway) she did great!

December Daily: 4

After the graduation ceremony, we headed over to Joe & Kathy’s house to celebrate and (of course) to watch the SEC Championship game. Auburn played South Carolina (this was SC’s first ever SEC Championship game). It was quite an entertaining game if I must say so... final score, Auburn 56 - SC 17! (Dare i say it... War Eagle). Now off to the National Championship game in January, against Oregon. How cool will it be when Auburn wins the Championship and then 2 years in a row, the state of Alabama will have their best schools with a record of 14-0 and the National Championship title.
Yes, we LOVE football around here.

By the way, I have gone back and forth with how I am going to put my album together... finally I think I have a plan - one I just need to stick to or else this whole project will never come together (there are just so many awesome options)...

I'm sticking to my original album option - a red post-bound 8x8 Martha Stewart album that I got on clearance at Michaels awhile back.  I cut extra pages out of patterned and plain white cardstock to fit in alongside the pocket sleeves that came with the album. 

I'm also going to skip trying to get ink for my printer and print each page myself - I'll be much happier with the quality if I just have them printed professionally.  Luckily, my regular local printer (Wolf Camera -  in other places it might be Ritz or something else) prints 6x8's for $0.99 each.  So I can just upload my order and have them ready to pick up within the hour (or more likely, the next day on my lunch break).

December Daily: 3

Day 3! (Yes, I'm playing a little bit of catch up tonight with my posts)

December Daily: 3

Tonight was a “stay at home” night. We had been running around with so much else to do all week, so it was really nice to relax a bit. The girls had lots of fun playing at home. Nora spent most of the evening sitting at the table “daw”-ing and saying “Momma, hep me”, wanting me to “daw” with her. Sarah had a great time just roaming the house and playing with random household items (like the baskets she’s pushing around) and other toys... you know, the usual stuff.
It was really nice to rest up and spend time with the girls before our busy weekend.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Homemade Peppermint Bark

Mmmm... Peppermint Bark.  I love this time of year how peppermint bark starts showing up in stores.  My usual favorite is the pretty pricey ($26.50 for a 1lb box) that you can get from Williams Sonoma

Well, as I was talking to some friends the other night about what to make for Jeremy's work Christmas party (everyone is supposed to bring a dessert - I'm sure there will be tons of sweets) and they both suggested peppermint bark!  Sounds wonderful, and when I started thinking about it, it really made sense that it'd be pretty easy to do.  Right?

Yes!  Of course!

My basic way that I was thinking was to just melt some chocolate and crush up some peppermint and let it harden back up.  Well, I figured that there just had to be a little something more to it than that so I Googled a recipe and decided to go with the one on that I found here.

You can check out their recipe for more details on how much of each ingredient they recommend, or just follow along here for some basic estimates.  I don't really care for exact measurements when making things - that's just one more thing you have to wash - so I tend to really like making things where you can pretty much wing it and still come out with a great finished product.

peppermint_bark_web (7)
Here's what I used:
  • candy canes (any size works but I had a box of the little ones)
  • 1 bag milk chocolate chips (also use semi-sweet, dark chocolate, whatever you want)
  • 1 bag white chocolate chips
  • peppermint extract
  • canola oil

Here's what I did:

First, unwrap your candy canes if necessary and then break them in pieces.  They don't have to be tiny pieces just yet, just a little smaller than whole.  My mini-canes were broken into about 3 pieces each.

peppermint_bark_web (2)
Use a chopper or food processor (or a blender would work too I guess) and chop up your peppermint pieces.  I suppose you could even do this by hand and just put the canes in a plastic bag and break them up - but the chopper is so much faster and easier!

peppermint_bark_web (4)
Once, chopped to your liking - set aside the peppermint pieces for later use.

Set up your dish that you'll use to cool the bark - This time I used 2 9x9 round cake pans, but in the future I think it would be better to have a large cookie sheet.  Line this dish with parchment paper (it doesn't have to be perfect).

peppermint_bark_web (8)
Now, set up a double boiler on your stove to melt the chocolate (milk, semi-sweet, or dark).
peppermint_bark_web (9)
*If you don't know what a double boiler is - or don't have a fancy one... I always just took a pot and put water in it to boil, then a glass Pyrex dish on top and put whatever needs to be melted in there. 

Put a tiny bit of canola oil in your double boiler and then your bag of chocolate chips.  Stir the chips constantly while they melt. 

peppermint_bark_web (10)
Once the chocolate is melted, drop a tiny bit of peppermint extract in there and stir it in really well.  Caution!  A little bit of peppermint extract goes a L O N G way!  Don't overdo it!

peppermint_bark_web (11)
Now pour your melted chocolate out on your cooling pan then sprinkle with crushed peppermint pieces.  Set the dish in the freezer to cool and harden.  *The recipe said to let it cool for an hour, but I checked mine after about 20-30 min and it seemed fine to me, so I moved on to the next step - just test your chocolate to make sure it's hardened a decent amount before moving on.

Now wash your melting bowl, or just get a new one.  You don’t want your white chocolate pieces melting with the remnants of your milk chocolate do you?  Maybe you do… if so, you can skip this step.

Repeat the chocolate melting process with your white chocolate pieces.  The recipe calls for adding the peppermint extract to this layer too – but I didn’t.  It’s your call… just depends on how much of the peppermint flavor you want in there.

peppermint_bark_web (12)
Pull your hardened milk chocolate out of the freezer and spread your white chocolate on top of it, then top with peppermint pieces.  Freeze until completely hardened.

Now break up your pieces of chocolate and enjoy!

See that was simple now wasn’t it?  And tasty too!

I had Jeremy break up the chocolate pieces as I was heading out the door to work in the morning, so I didn’t get any photos of that process or what it looked like afterward.  We took this to his work Christmas party, and then forgot it there.  I did try a small piece and it was very good!  Almost just like the pricey WS box but I probably spent about $8 for ingredients and was able to make more than what you get in that 1lb box.

Things I figured out along the way:
It’s better if you use a thinner layer of each type of chocolate – not too thin, but not too thick either.
It would have probably worked better to lay this out on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet instead of the round cake pans – the problem is that my cookie sheets won’t fit in my freezer (it’s a side-by-side) – so I’ll have to figure out a work around on that one.  Any ideas?

A little peppermint extract goes a long way – use sparingly.

peppermint_bark_web (1)
This is very easily a kid-friendly cooking experiment.  Have your child help unwrap candy canes and break them up, they can even help sprinkle the crushed canes over the melted chocolate.  Older children can even help melt the chocolate pieces. Plus, they'll really enjoy it if you let them eat a candy cane - Nora really did!

Enjoy!  What will you be making this holiday season?

December Daily: 2

Day 2! I know, I'm a day late posting this one, I had it mostly ready last night - so that counts, right?? :)
December Daily: 2

It’s Jeremy’s 33rd birthday! Tonight we met up for a family birthday dinner at Rosie’s Mexican Cantina. The food was good, and we got to hang out with some family that we don’t often see. Alan and Dee Dee were both off work and got to come eat, and this time Grant was able to join us even though Samantha had to work.
Jeremy racked up on some awesome birthday gifts too! Video games, movies, a new keyboard (to replace the one the girls broke) and a new Auburn shirt that he can break in this weekend for the SEC Championship game.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

December Daily: 1

So, there's this awesome project that Ali Edwards started way back when called December Daily... I've been doing this the past 2 years, and even though I was tempted to tell myself I was too busy to do it this year, I'm making myself do it.  I mean really... I've already done 2 years in a row, why not keep up the tradition?

What is December Daily?  Well, Ali explains it all very well right here so there's no use in me re-explaining it in detail.  But basically, it's a mini scrapbook with words and pictures for each day of December.  Some people just go up to Christmas day, others do the whole month.  I've done both before... kinda (my past 2 albums haven't exactly been completed 100%).  This year, I'm not completely sure how far I will go - we'll see how things happen.  Hopefully this year I can at least keep up with this everyday as things happen and actually get my layouts created.

In the past I've done handmade albums - as in hand scrapped, as opposed to digitally scrapped.  This year, I'm going digital at least with the main layout of my pages.  I'll start printing them as I figure out how I want to bind them (a pre-made album, a handmade album, professionally printed and bound album, etc.)  I figure if I can at least get all the layouts done digitally and share them here then that's a first step.  I can always go back and print them all at the end of the month and find time later to bind it all together.

The one big thing that I am missing this year is that a main part of the project is that you are supposed to get your physical album created and ready beforehand.  That way you can spend minimal amount of time during the month with your pages and at the end have a full completed album.  Well, since I ran out of time and was questioning if I'd do this again this year or not... I'm going to do it backwards.  I'll create the album after I already have all my pages. 

Anyway, without further delay... here is today's page... (click to view larger)
December Daily: 1
December Daily: 1

Happy December!

Tonight we went to a Christmas party for Jeremy’s work.  Things started off oh so well, as Sarah got sick in the car right before we got to the party.  The rest of the evening she was great though.  The girls made some new friends and had a blast playing with Wyatt (16 mos).  Sarah got very friendly with Wyatt’s Mommy which surprised us because she’s usually very weary around any new person.

We all had a great time!  The girls even got to stay out late - as we didn’t leave the party until around 8:30pm (already past bedtime).  But they were pretty good, so all was well.

Are you participating in December Daily?  I'd love to see how yours is coming along!  Leave a comment and point me to where I can view your album :)
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