Monthly Archives: December 2010

Emergency Dessert

Yesterday I realized at 2:00 that I needed a dessert for a potluck at 3:00. Part of me was very close to jumping up and cranking out a batch of gingerbread cookies, but the other, saner part of me wasn’t in the mood for speed-baking at all. So to my husband’s relief, I decided to go another route and instead scrounged through the pantry for ideas, preferably one that wouldn’t involve turning the oven on. I briefly considered grabbing a package of knock-off Oreos, and calling it good (after all, no one knows whose responsible for what on the potluck table…), but then thought NO, certainly I have more dignity than that. But maybe there’s an idea here.

I continued to scrounge and came up with a 1/4 full bag of chocolate chips, one Hershey bar, one candy cane, and some sprinkles. And that was all I needed.

The chocolates went into a glass bowl which was set on a pan of boiling water. Stirring constantly, it all melted in about 8 minutes. Then I stirred in a teaspoon and a half of Crisco to thin the chocolate down a bit.

I told myself I’d just go as long as the chocolate lasted (which I didn’t think would be that many), but it easily stretched to dip the entire package, and not a single cookie more.

The dipped cookies were set on waxed paper on a cookie sheet, and sprinkled with either 1. the crushed up candy cane 2. little white sprinkles or 3. white and red sugar, and placed in the freezer (for about 10 minutes? not long at all).

While that was cooling I even had time to decorate the rim of the paper plate to spruce it up a bit.

And that’s that. I am DEFINITELY  keeping chocolate chips on hand for the next time I need a fast dessert – and there’s always something that would be good dipped in chocolate, right? Pretzels, walnut halves, dried fruit, marshmallows, cookies, I imagine that with some creativity and some chocolate chips, almost anything has potential to solve the next dessert emergency.


Getting ready for 2011

As 2010 comes to a close, its time once again to get next year’s calendar. (Although its actually been kind of freeing to have no obligations in the New Year – if its not on the calendar, its not happening, right?) Mine is all picked out. Even though I like artsy calendars, there is one that is SO helpful and practical that its won out the past three years, no question, even though I don’t always love the pattern. That says something for its functionality, right?

So what is this great calendar, you ask. Well its called the File-It 2011 Pocket Wall Calendar, and its an amazingly helpful tool in my attempts to be organized. Its wire-bound, like a normal calendar. But each month is printed on the front of a full sized pocket. So when an invitation, bill, or  theater tickets arrive that occurs at a future date, the info gets marked on the calendar and all related paperwork goes right into the pocket of that month. So when February’s wedding comes around, I will look in the pocket and find the map, invitation and instructions all there waiting for me. How nice!

You can buy birthday cards in advance and put them in the pocket of the month they will be sent, or load up the pockets in January with surprises for yourself to find throughout the year. The pockets also are good for holding a pen and any calendar stickers that you might use.

The other brilliant feature is that the pockets are perforated at the top, so when the month is over you can easily remove it, fold down the top, and then the whole thing turns into a standard sized file folder with the date printed on the top tab (see the photo above). How smart is that!

If you’re interested in getting one (no I don’t get any cuts from the company for saying this!) they are available here, and typing in SAVE10DEC will get you 10% off. Enjoy, you’ll be thanking yourself all year.

Three month update

Its been awhile, I realized, since the last chickie update. And they have definitely changed since then!  They’re living outside now full-time, since they’re fully feathered out. That means no more cute little fuzzballs that fall asleep standing up – now my little flock is almost full grown, and its much harder to hold one while working on he computer or whatnot. (not that I used to do that when they were tiny… ahem.) Its hard to believe that just 3 months ago they were so small. They’ve also started eating kitchen scraps, which makes them like little garbage disposals for all of our kitchen waste. Here’s some before and afters to help see the change.





Favorite Christmas cd (complete with a really cool and beautiful music player).       Favorite Christmasy font. Instructions are there for how to download and install.   Favorite Christmas Craft Project that I haven’t made yet but would really … Continue reading

Tabletop Snowball

At the florist last week, looking at all the beautiful and creative ways to use even simple (and inexpensive!) flowers to make striking arrangements, I was hit with the “I could do that” bug. So I did. And this one, is really, truly, one that you can’t mess up, and it looks really impressive and beautiful!

All you need are a few bunches of small sturdy flowers (I used two bunches of glittered mums that were on sale at the grocery store. Small carnations would probably work also), a block of florist’s foam, a container that the florists’ foam will fit into, and some scissors to clip the flower stems.

To start, run the foam under water to make it nice and moist. Place it in the middle of your decorative container. My container was a thrift store silver bowl. Other fun ideas might be a shiny red ceramic bowl, some pretty teacups, or even a cake stand.

No look at how tall you want your arrangement to stick up, and cut the flower stems about an inch longer than that. Stick one flower into the very center of the florist foam – this will be the high point of the puffball.

Work in a circle to place the stems around the center flower, checking every so often to make sure they are in evenly. If you see a gap, stick a flower in to fill it! The foam will hold the stem at whatever angle you place it. The nice thing is that the mums are tough enough to push on, so they won’t wilt or collapse if you move them around a bit.

When you’re done, admire your work and pat yourself on the back for your floristry accomplishment. You can make a few arrangements in different sized containers, or poke some accents (like mini red rosebuds? Or little shiny Christmas ornaments?) into the foam for added interest, if you like.

Not My Chickens!

Yesterday was a momentous day for us. Some friends of ours, who are a one month and twenty chickens ahead of us in their chicken raising ventures, were ready to slaughter their roosters. They invited some of us suburb-slickers over to learn the finer points of killing and cleaning an animal, giving everyone an opportunity to kill their first chicken.

I’ve had some bad experiences around blood and guts in the past, and am proud to report that although I didn’t participate as chicken holder or axe-wielder, I did successfully watch without passing out. (small, achievable goals, right?) My favorite part was watching my manly husband swing that big old axe. What a stud.

We learned how to pluck and clean the chickens as well; it was much easier and less gross than I imagined it would be. And our gracious hosts sent us each home with a couple of cleaned roosters which we will be enjoying for dinner this week. Can’t get much fresher than that.


Oh Christmas Cards

Isn’t December the best time to go and check the mail? For all the work and stress it can be to get the cards designed and the envelopes addressed, it sure is fun to see the postman leave and know that there’s going to be mail to get excited about.

The dilemma for us has always been where to put the cards when we get them. Growing up they were often placed in a basket on the dining room table, and each night at the dinner table we would pick out and display the card at the top of the stack, and pray specifically for that family. Our cards may end up in a similar basket, but until they do we want to display them, and we’ve only got a finite mantle (which is already filled with Christmas decorations). This year we found a solution.

We had an extra length of 1×2″ board with a row of eye screws, left over from a curtain making project. So I snagged a handful of coordinating ribbons from the ribbon box, tied them to the hooks, and hung the whole thing from fishing line on the wall, using clothespins and binder clips to clip cards to the ribbons. (Hubbs was much happier with the prospect of one small hole in the wall than 8 small holes in the wall)

Now if you don’t happen to have a length of board with eye bolts screwed in, you could easily push-pin ribbons to a board, tie ribbons to a tree-branch, or tack the ribbons directly to your wall. The nice thing is the long ribbons to clip the cards to.

Now that this is solved, on to the bigger job for today of getting my own Christmas cards figured out…