Friday, November 30, 2012

Counting The Days

I'm heading out to get advent gifts today. I usually mix it up with tiny candies, little toys, and coins.  I made this advent calendar last year for both boys.  I love it, because each day they get to untie a little sack to see what "the elves" left them. For more ideas on what to put in your advent calendar check out these great recommendations  from Oh Happy Day!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Skirting Around

DIY Tree Skirt

I love to switch things up every Christmas.  Some years I want color, some years I like things to look more organic. Lately, I've been on a real paper/wood/gold kick, which translates well to holiday decor.  I've had a paper tree skirt in mind and I put one together this week. Inspired by papel picado/ pinata fringe, I added layers and a snowflake and poinsettia detail. To make one like this, you'll need a 9x12 craft paper paint tarp (available at OSH), gold glitter spray paint, school glue, scissors, Xacto knife, and a medium sauce pan lid to use as a circle stencil.  Unfold the length of the paper tarp, cut into 4' squares. Picture tutorial below...  

Monday, November 26, 2012

Moon Mountain

Moon Mountain Tree Farm

Atop Moon Mountain in Sonoma there is a tree farm that we have visited for the last two years in an attempt to cultivate a little family tradition. It's incredibly beautiful up there...the grapevines on the surrounding hills are a wash of fall colors. Our favorite tree is the Norway Spruce, a traditional Christmas tree in Europe.  I like it because it has a full shape, with soft, spaced out branches. Because we got it a month before the big day, it will sit unadorned in water to acclimate to the great indoors.  Jasper is so excited for Christmas that he has already decorated the boys room with cast-off lights, nutcrackers and a miniature tinsel tree.  He's a more-is-more kind of guy.

This week I'll be doing a paper tree skirt project and a feature on those thrift store campaign chests I refinished. Have a happy Cyber Monday- don't forget to visit Etsy! There are lots of specials being offered by the independent design community today.

Holiday Kids Room

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Plaid Is The New Black

I know it's exciting to get a good deal.  Did you know that Target is actually open on Thanksgiving Day? I'm sure there are some adorably packaged thing-a-ma-bobs to be had. Sure, it's exciting to save a buck, but for a really good deal, support a small business.  The day after Thanksgiving is also called Plaid Friday, in honor of independent business, and I'm going to do my best to support the little guy this holiday season. Here's my favorite small business Jasper Hearts Wren. Who's on your list?


Here's something delicious to make for brunch if you should find yourself with half a can of pumpkin puree leftover from making a pie. It happens.  I suppose if you were so inclined you could also use it as a taco shell to hold the leftover stuffing, turkey, and cranberry sauce.  You know you want to. 

Pumpkin Waffles

1 1/2 cups AP Flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tbsp pumpkin pie spice (or a mix of cinnamon and nutmeg)
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk (or almond milk)
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup pumpkin puree 

Whisk together dry ingredients.  In a separate bowl beat egg with milk. Add sugar, vanilla, and pumpkin puree until smooth, and combine with dry ingredients.  

Oil heated waffle iron, and bake until edges are just crispy. 


Kid friendly idea: let them crack the eggs and mix the batter.  There might be a few shells in your waffle, but it's worth it.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Come Gather 'Round People

Holiday Wreath

It's pretty up here in Sonoma County right now.  The seasons are so much more vivid than by the bay, and it's chilly. With an unexpected weekend with no plans, we busied ourselves with some fun fall projects.  After 2 years of sitting idle in the box, we opened up our grinding attachment for our Kitchen Aid mixer and made our first attempt at a handmade whisky-fennel sausage. More on that later.  We also played a mean game of family mud football, complete with a bloody lip, I refinished some campaign chests I found at a thrift store (upcoming feature), and Jasper and I made some wreaths from the shrubs and trees in our back yard.

To make one like ours you'll need gather some olive branches (or sturdy, pliable vines), berry branches, small dark rubber bands and some hot glue. Snip several rubber bands open. Attach the olive branches together, overlapping by about 6 inches. Tie their ends together with the rubber bands, trim to finish. Stretch the wreath to shape. Place berries around wreath, we draped ours to give it more dimension, and hot glue them to the olive wreath.   


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Refrigerator Art

I love to get the mail in December. Nestled in between the bills and the catalogs are pretty handwritten envelopes with cheerful stamps. Inside are the smiling, familiar faces of my friends and more often than not, their silly, happy kids. These cards live on my refrigerator long after the tree comes down. I've already started pouring through the hundreds of photos I've taken of my boys this year for our card.  I always choose candid shots, and I like understated designs to really showcase the picture. I'm particularly smitten with the holiday photo card collection offered on Minted, and I'm really leaning towards this card and the snazzy black-striped envelope lining and backing. Maybe it's the cute little boys in oxford shirts... 

So, the really cool thing about Minted is that it's a portal for indie designers get their work out there. They can submit their work to be voted on by the community, which could earn them the opportunity to "minted" into the collection. You can read more about the designers, upcoming call for entries, DIY's, and general prettiness on their adorably named blog, Julep

*This is a sponsored post*

Friday, November 16, 2012

DIY Friday: Cheap Thrills


This time of year can get hectic, and of course, quite costly.  Today I'm going to share a recipe for my signature party treat: Rosemary and Truffle Oil Popcorn.  It's such a crowd pleaser, and with a small investment in some decent white truffle oil (on sale right now at Whole Foods for $13) this stovetop treat is perfect for Thanksgiving football or a holiday party.  I'm also doing a quick tutorial for a fancy pants way to serve it, inspired by a ornament display at Anthro.  Read on and have a beautiful weekend!


Paper Bag Decor

Rosemary and White Truffle Oil Popcorn

3 tbsp canola oil or flavorless coconut oil (for popping)
1/3 cup popcorn kernels
1 sprig rosemary, chopped
1 tbsp white truffle oil 
1 tbsp course sea salt

Heat oil over a medium-high flame in a wide shallow pot. Add kernels and cover, shaking it to coat the corn. Leave lid slightly askew to allow steam to release.  Pop and shake until you here the kernel popping drop off.  Transfer to a bowl, toss with rosemary, truffle oil, and salt.

To make the paper bowl, simple spray the exterior of a brown paper sack with metallic spray (remember to get the sides and the base).  Fold the top down to the desired height and round to shape.  Voila!  Use this concept to package wine, or create a paper vase for a centerpiece, simply put the flowers or plant in a container inside the bag. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Drop It Like It's Hot

Cast Iron Chicken and Rosemary-Olive Oil Biscuits. 
Wow. Yum. Make this.
For more on caring for cast iron, read this.

Chicken Stew

3 skinless/boneless chicken breasts
4 cups chicken stock 
2 tbsp olive oil
3 carrots, chopped
2 parsnips, chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
3 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 bay leaf
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 475 degrees

In a large saucepan, poach chicken breasts in stock until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Prepare biscuit dough during cook time. Reserve stock, allow the chicken to cool to touch and coarsely chop. Over medium-high heat, coat a large cast iron skillet (or oven safe pan) with olive oil and add vegetables, and garlic. Saute until potatoes begin to soften.  Sprinkle flour to coat vegetables, season and add reserved stock, bay leaf, and chicken to the pan.  Simmer until combined and stock begins to thicken. Reduce to low heat and dollop heaping tablespoons of biscuit dough evenly to the top of the stew.  Bake for 6 minutes until the biscuits begin to brown.  Eat with reckless abandon.

For Biscuits

1 2/3 cup AP flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried rosemary
2/3 cup of milk*
1/3 cup olive oil

Thoroughly mix the flour,baking powder, salt, and rosemary.  In a separate bowl mix the milk and olive oil.  Combine the wet and dry ingredients DO NOT over-mix.  Top the stew with heaping tablespoonfuls of dough or bake on their own 1 inch apart on a greased baking sheet for 6 minutes. 

*substitute plain rice milk for non-dairy

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Hope and Change

Last week I really started to notice the flutter of gratitude posts on Facebook. November has become a month of giving thanks, which I think is actually very lovely. I am too lazy to think of a unique thing to say every day, which extends to writing my blog. Last week I started several projects, and prepared a few posts, but nothing felt authentic or all that interesting to me.  I don't want to write something unfinished or uninteresting just to put it out there, and I don't want my children to watch 4 hours of television to make myself appear perfectly crafty.  So, I think I'm going to slow it down and tidy it up. Stay tuned for some pretty holiday projects that you can work on now, make-it-yourself gift ideas, and some more recipes from our kitchen.   

For today, in the spirit of Thanksgiving...I am thankful for my wacky family, and our light-filled happy home, even when it looks like this:


Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Strange Brew

I love to bake beer bread in the fall. We eat it straight out of the oven slathered in butter, and alongside homemade pea soup. The recipe I follow is really quite simple, and pretty darn nutritious, calling for whole wheat flour and old fashioned oats. Last batch, my six year old asked how it was possible to make bread without yeast (go Jasper!).  The answer for this recipe is found in the beer's yeast, and a combination of baking baking powder and soda which work in concert to leaven the batter-like dough. 

Beer Bread

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
2 tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 12oz beer, cold and fizzy (no flat stouts)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Grease a standard loaf pan

Whisk together dry ingredients.  Pour in beer, stir until just combined.  Pour into pan and bake for 35 minutes.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Party Animal


Today's the day.  Get out there and make your voice heard!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Pinned Together

Fall leaf project from Apartment Therapy Family

I'm happy to announce that I've been doing some pinning for Altitude Design Summit's Pinterest page.  Check out all of my favorite crafting for kids projects here.  If you are a blogger you must check out Alt.  They offer online classes on Alt Summit Channel specific to creative/lifestyle bloggers. I've taken a few and they've been tremendously helpful for me, so I'm excited to be contributing to their brand in some small way. This January, I'll be attending their wildly popular design summit in Salt Lake City. It sounds chilly and very exciting...

Friday, November 2, 2012

Take Cover

As promised, my week has been too busy to prepare a DIY (see halloween costumes). Instead, I'll share a few links.  Should you be in the market for an enormous tent for beach glamping, you're in luck.  Anthropologie's Altair Tent is now on sale. Here's how to do it up:

sit down and rest your weary bones
enjoy an autumnal brunch
and a game of horse shoes, horse shoes!
then cozy up with a good book.

Happy Friday, xo

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Fall Spice

It was a rainy night of trick-or-treating here in Petaluma.  After the kids were stripped of their damp furry costumes and put to bed, and before I fell asleep on the couch, we enjoyed a few helpings of this slow cooked spicy Stew. I added a little cinnamon and nutmeg to the broth which sweetened the pork and layered onto the peppery kick. Delicious with a few mini Heath Bars for dessert, you know, if you happen to have some on hand.

Chipotle Pork and Butternut Squash Stew
Serves 4-6

1 1/4 lbs pork tenderloin, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
1 medium butternut squash, cubed
1 yellow onion, chopped
8 cups chicken stock
2 canned chipotle peppers, with 1 tbsp sauce
1 tbsp oregano
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp salt (or more to taste)

Brown the pork, transfer to crock pot.  Add remainder of ingredients and slow cook on low for 8 hours.  Serve with cornbread, or buttered tortillas.  


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