Archive for December, 2011

27
Dec

That was some steep competition!

3 Little Pigs Gingerbread

The results are in for the gingerbread house competition this year.  There were some amazing gingerbread constructions involving moving parts and engineering genius.  42 groups entered houses (I use this word loosely because many of the creations did not involve any sort of house)  in the competition, and over 2400 votes were cast.  This year was the first year they put the houses up on facebook, and they added a category for the group who got the most “likes” on facebook.  Had we known this we would have pushed harder for these votes…next year.  OK, so you want the results.  Looking at Facebook, we came in fourth place.  Overall I have no idea where we stood.

In First Place…”Santa’s Radiation Workshop” created by Radiation Oncology.  In this scene, Rudolph is lying on a table getting a scan done and his nose is lit up.

Rudolph Gingerbread

I was happy they won because their idea was so creative.

Second Place: “Angry Birds” by Rehabilitative Medicine.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get a picture of this one.

Third Place: “Building 1″ which is the main administrative building on the campus.

Building 1 Gingerbread

The Facebook Winner was “Bridge to the Future” by the Office of Science Education

Overall, it was a fun competition.  We learned from our first time around and next year we will be in it to win it!  Here are some more pictures for you to enjoy…

Happy Feet

Santa climbing washington monument

Peace on Earth

Once Upon a Time

Merry go Round

Category : Food and Drink | Holidays | Blog
25
Dec

Family, Friends and Food!

The holidays filled our house with family, friends and food.  It was such a nice way to open up our house to the people we care about, and made us feel very lucky to have such a wonderful home. There was a lot of hustle and bustle getting ready – cooking, cleaning, decorating…  Here is an overview of what was happening at our house.  We hope everyone had a wonderful holiday and wish everyone a happy new year!

The Tree Comes Home

The Tree Comes Home

The Tree Gets Decorated

The Tree Gets Decorated

Cookies Get Baked

Cookies Get Baked

Candles Are Placed...Everywhere

Candles Are Placed...Everywhere

Decorations Cover Every Surface

Decorations Cover Every Surface

Food Gets Set Out

Food Gets Set Out

Drinks Get Chilled

Drinks Get Chilled

Yum...Cookies!

Yum...Cookies!

...cupcakes, and more!

...cupcakes, and more!

Category : Entertaining | Food and Drink | Holidays | Blog
14
Dec

I Heart

Green Tea Softserve

Green Tea Soft Serve!!!!  I can’t find it many places, so when I do I have no choice but to get a cone and enjoy every last bite!

Category : Uncategorized | Blog
13
Dec

You will be missed!

You were there for us for so many years.  When we needed someone to lean on, we could always count on you for your support. You were so generous with our friends and guests, giving them a place to relax and sleep.

Okay…I am talking about the first couch my husband and I ever bought together.  Actually, I think it was the first major purchase we ever made together.  It was a great couch – very comfy and it doubled as a guest bed for our guests when we were living in our one bedroom apartment.  I remember the day we got it.  We had been contemplating and rationalizing and convincing ourselves we needed it.  The daybed that we tried to make look like a couch just wasn’t cutting it anymore.  This was our big “We are adults now” purchase.  No more hand-me-downs. So it was decided!  We were getting the couch!  We rushed out the door to get to the store before it closed and the sale ended.  That’s when we realized, neither of us had grabbed our keys.  Great! Our couch is waiting for us on the last day of the sale a few minutes before closing and we have no way of getting to the store or back into our apartment. Hmmm. We called the weekend Help! line for our apartment complex.  Finally someone showed up, but it was going to be $150 to let us in since it was the weekend…or maybe some of the cookies I just baked could sweeten the deal.  Yes!  He took the bait (I think it helped that he had been at a party and has been drinking before coming over).  Whatever the reason, the cookies were payment enough!  Phew! OK, now to get the couch. We made it to the store just in time, splurged for the sleeper sofa and picked a wonderful sage green microfiber.

Today that couch left to go live with another family.  Our new house arrangement just didn’t leave room for it.  I was so excited to move on and open up space in our house, but after the couch was gone, I have to admit I had a more emotional reaction than I had anticipated.  Our first couch…first major purchase as a couple…gone. It is a bittersweet moment even though it is just a couch.  Times change, things change, people change. It was a wonderful couch, but we have grown and changed and it time for the next chapter (or couch).

Living Room

Category : Design | Miscellaneous | Blog
12
Dec

Cranberries aren’t just for eating!

This is a quick and easy way to add festive candles to your holiday decor.

Supplies:

  • Floating Candles
  • Shallow clear vase or glass bowl
  • Cranberries

cranberries

Take a few big handfuls of cranberries and pick over them for any they don’t meet your standards for prettiness.  Dump them into the glass dish, add water to cover the cranberries, drop in floating candles and you’re done!  I told you it was quick and easy.  Enjoy!

Cranberry Floating Candleholder

I’m feeling more festive already!

Category : Holidays | Blog
9
Dec

The Start of a New Tradition

Growing up my sister and I had several advent calendars that we started opening up on December first.  It was always very exciting because it meant the start of the Christmas season.  Something to hold us over during the countdown to the best day of the year.  We sometimes had the cardboard advent calendars with the chocolate inside, which was super great because we got a piece of chocolate every night (even if it did taste more like wax – that didn’t matter because it was chocolate!).  We also had two staple advent calendars that came out every year.  One with little figurines wrapped up in tissue paper and tied to a cloth background.  In the middle was a Christmas tree that we stuck the figurines to with velcro as we opened them.  The other involved opening little ornaments and putting them on a tiny tree.  Both were fun and made for great memories.

During a recent visit with my sister she mentioned that she would really like to have an advent calendar to start the tradition with her daughter.  My creative wheels immediately started spinning.  After lots of hunting, I settled on this unfinished wooden tree with drawers…

Unfinished Advent Calendar

I first started by painting each of the knobs with silver paint.

Painted Knobs

Then came the daunting (and exciting) task of coming up with a unique design for each drawer. Enter – once again – my fabulous brainstorming drawing skills.

Advent Calendar Design

Now to make it a reality.  I first painted the background of each drawer based on what I had designed for it.

Painted Drawers

I used a combination of paint, stamps with embossing powder, and an embossing marker to draw designs that I then embossed on each drawer.  Here is the finished product.

Advent Calendar

It took many hours and days, but was a lot of fun to put together.  The only thing that kills me is that there is a mistake on one of the drawers (I will let you figure out what it is), which I realized after it was too late to fix.  This is good practice for keeping the perfectionist in me at bay.  Now it is just a matter of deciding how to fill the drawers, and creating new traditions with new members of the family.

Advent Detail 1

Advent Detail 2

Happy Countdown to Xmas

Category : Uncategorized | Blog
7
Dec

I Heart

Gotta Love this Spoon!

Tovolo Spoon

My sister got me this spoon last year, and I just bought 2 more because I use it for everything when I am cooking!  I used to be a diehard old school wooden spoon user, but I have been converted.  I even bought them for lots of people I know for Christmas this year. Check it out in my amazon store.

Category : I Heart... | Blog
5
Dec

A Gingerbread House Competition – Who Could Resist?

Brick House

When I got an email at work about a gingerbread house competition, the wheels in my domestic diva brain immediately started turning.  The benefits: 1) I get to build a gingerbread house (who wouldn’t want to do this – turns out a lot of people, but I will get to that later); 2) A little friendly competition to up the ante – what could be more fun; 3) It will be on display for all of the children in the hospital where I work – definitely the best part.

The Theme: The 3 Little Pigs

Here is my beautiful original sketch for the gingerbread house plan:

Original Gingerbread House Plan

The drawing skills are incredible – I know.  What can I say?  My brain thinks in rough sketches, and usually they end up on paper.  So anyways, this was the original plan, but of course things change as you encounter reality, or in this case – gravity.  Check out item number 3 above in the drawing.  When your pig ends up being 5 times larger than your table, and your chair won’t actually stand up because you accidentally (despite your best effort) made the legs different lengths, you learn to let go and move on.  So instead, we ended up with what we like to call “alien pig” inside the stick house…

Alien Pig

As part of the competition, everyone has to pick up a gingerbread house kit and use all the pieces from it.  We also learned that one of the rules was that everything that could be seen has to be edible, so we could use glue, and styrofoam, and whatever else we wanted to construct our scene as long as they were all covered with edible things.  While shopping, we decided to go with fast drying industrial strength glue to hold everything together.  We later learned that this glue was not so fast drying and the fumes probably killed about a hundred brain cells per second.  Halfway through the night we had all the windows open (even though it was about 40 degrees outside) for ventilation.  One of my coworkers also discovered the magic of glue guns for the first time, and was totally enamored with it for the rest of the night.

Okay, backing up…Team Gingerbread got together after work, started sorting the million pounds of candy we had purchased, ate some pizza, drank some wine, and began the journey into the world of gingerbread construction.

Our best moments: building the snowmen/lady, the shingles on the brick house, using pretzels to make the stick house.

Check out those shingles!

Shingles

Our most challenging moments: constructing the pigs and the wolf.  One of our pigs was accidentally decapitated multiple times, lost an arm and a leg, and was definitely not going to stand up on his own.  Alien Pig has no legs so that he would A) stand up and B) fit inside the stick house.  The wolfs legs started out long and ended up being reversed so they just look like feet coming out and so he could stand on his own (with a little help from a candy cane).  Gluing sugar to wood also presents some challenges.  Full protective gear was used in this process.  The wood was taken outside, placed on newspapers, and sprayed with glue (while wearing a face mask).  It was then sprinkled with sugar, sprayed with more glue, sprinkled with more sugar, sprayed with more glue…you get the idea.

He is intact and somewhat upright now, so we are pretty darn happy!

Piggy with Problems

Four hours later, we were exhausted, brainfried from glue, but pleasantly surprised by the final product…

The Three Little Pigs Gingerbread Style

The Three Little Pigs Gingerbread Style

Go Team Gingerbread!  Results will be in on December 19th!

Category : Food and Drink | Holidays | Blog
3
Dec

A Quilt for my Niece

First I have to start by saying my niece is beautiful, perfect and amazing!

My Niece

I knew when my sister got pregnant that a domestic diva quilt was in my niece’s future.  I also knew I wanted to have birds on the quilt, but did not want to do a lot any applique.  That required finding a very geometric bird pattern.  After browsing google images for a while, I came across the perfect pattern thanks to sewgirlyalterations.com…

birdquilt

It is the perfect geometric bird design.

Step 2 was picking out all the different fabrics for the birds.  I had my sister help with this (since it was already a given that I would be making a quilt, the surprise would be the actual design of the quilt).  I thought it would be nice to have her involved in the process.  So off to the fabric store we went, and the education of my sister began.  She had never attempted to pick out fabrics for a quilt before (she is the musical one and I am the artsy one).  It was fun filling the cart to the brim with fabrics and then spreading them out across a table to decide what went well together.  In the end, this is what we ended up with…

Bird Quilt Fabric

Step 3 was figuring out how to replicate the pattern, which took some trial and error due to seam allowances and angles, but I finally got something close to the image above.

Bird Pattern

Step 4 - Repeat Step 3 nine times (while reversing the pattern one time for the “kissing birds”)!

Birds in Progress

Step 5 - Finish piecing the birds and tree and grass and add some fun detail stitching…

Fun Details

About halfway through stitching the grass detail, I realized the commitment I had made to stitching back and forth about a million times.  Too late to turn back – and the payoff was worth it, but I thought I might collapse a few times during the process.

After many hours, days, and weeks of sewing, the quilt was finally finished.

Bird Quilt

Just in time for my sister’s baby shower…

Sister and Me with Quilt

…and given my niece’s liking for bird/owl couture, I think she will grow to like this quilt…

Niece in Owl Hat

Category : Quilting | Blog
1
Dec

Fa La La La La…

Christmas Guest Room 2011

I still haven’t found the right artwork for the walls, but the Christmas cheer is starting to shine bright in our guest room.  I bought some super fuzzy and soft Christmas fabric to make pillow covers with for the bed. Every year my Christmas decorating starts with choosing a color theme, and this year I decided to go with a red, white and silver.  We have a super cozy fleece blanket and down comforter for the bed to keep our guests nice and toasty.  I think it is also nice to throw in a little gift for guests when they arrive.  It is a nice surprise, and is easy to do.

For my guest gift this year, I turned to one of my favorite resources – Crate and Barrel.  Keeping with the warm and toasty theme, I decided to center my gift around hot chocolate.  I have a cute little can of hot chocolate, a candy cane encrusted marshmallow on a stick, a long silver spoon that says “cocoa” on it, and a cute little glass mug with snowmen on it.  I also through in some green and red argyle tissues.

Guest Gift Xmas 2010

Here is the gift set out on the bed and ready for the guests to arrive…

Guest Gift Xmas 2011 set out for guest

Bring on the guests and the holiday cheer!

Category : Holidays | Blog