Saturday, December 22, 2012

Fa la la Food!

Another thing I love about Christmas time is baking.  I love to experiment and make new things.  I also like to bake for my students.  My 4th and 5th grade choir sang You're a Mean One Mr. Grinch this year, so when I saw these cute Grinch cookies on Pinterest, I had to make them.  I got the recipe from this blog.  Here is the recipe:

Grinch Cookies

  • 1 18.25 oz box French vanilla cake mix (I just used white cake mix)
  • 6 T butter
  • 2 eggs
  • Green food coloring
  • 1 c. powdered sugar
  • 1 t corn starch
Preheat the oven to 375°. Melt the butter and set aside to cool. In a shallow dish, mix together the powdered sugar and cornstarch with a fork. In a large bowl, mix together the cooled butter, cake mix and eggs. This will be a little hard to stir together. Add the green food coloring and make sure it is all mixed in.

Take two spoons and drop a blob of dough in the powdered sugar. Move it around with spoon until it is mostly covered in powdered sugar. Then, once it is already covered, roll it into a ball and place it on a cookie sheet.

Make sure you don't over crowd the baking sheet because these cookies spread out.

Bake them for 8-9 minutes.   They will look slightly puffed up.

Take them out of the oven and cool for one minute. Then move onto a cooling rack. They will drop a little, but will still be nice and chewy.

I also made a batch using red velvet cake mix for my piano studio's recital but I forgot to take a picture.  They tasted awesome!  My husband took the leftovers to work the next day and they got rave reviews from his coworkers.

 I also made cake pops for my piano studio's recital.  I have never wanted to make these before because the traditional method of making them uses frosting to hold together crumbled up cake.  I do not like most kinds of frosting so these didn't sound appetizing.  Lately, several companies have made devices and pans for making these by just baking cake in a round shape.  I used the Nordicware cake pop pan that I purchased it at Target for mine.
I used the recipe on the package.  The recipe created brownie like cake that was very dense and rich.  Here it is:
Fudgy Cake Pops

  •   3/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 Tbsp cocoa
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 24 lollipop sticks
  • 1 package chocolate bark coating (I also used regular white almond bark)
  • assorted sprinkles (I used colored sugar) 
Heat oven to 325 degrees.  Grease pan and set aside.  In medium saucepan, over low heat, melt chocolate chips and butter together; stir until smooth.  Remove from heat and pour into medium bowl.  Add sugar and cocoa; mix until blended.  Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  Add flour and salt; stir until blended.  Spoon batter into bottom half of pan (without holes) filling each well so it mounds over the top of the pan.  Place top half of pan on top and secure with keys.  Bake for 20-25 minutes, until toothpick inserted comes out almost clean.  Cool 5 minutes in pan, remove cake pops from pan to cool completely.  Melt chocolate bark according to package directions.  Insert lollipop sticks into cakes.  Dip cake pops in melted chocolate, spinning to let excess chocolate rip off.  Decorate with sprinkles as desired.  Place on parchment paper to set.  Makes about 24 cake pops.

I also decorated some by dipping them in the white almond bark and then drizzling some of the chocolate bark over it.  I let them dry by sticking the stick end into a block of floral foam.  I displayed them at the piano recital in some parfait glasses that I picked up at a thrift store.  The sticks were shorter than I thought so I filled the parfait glasses with some coffee beans then stuck the pops in.  They turned out so cute and they were a big hit with my piano students and their siblings.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Deck the Halls

I really love Christmas.  It is a busy time of year especially for a music teacher at a Christian school but I still love it.  This year I was really excited to decorate our new house for Christmas.  Most of the stuff that I decorated with I had on hand.  I did buy some sweet apothecary jars at T.J. Maxx.  I love that they can be changed up for any season by what you put inside them.
The larger one is holding some natural looking objects.  Not blatantly Christmasy but goes well with the other two.

 I love the pattern on the one with the candy canes.  I was going to put pine cones in the other one but I decided to trim add some trimmed branches from the Christmas tree instead.

Next I decorated the piano.  I swapped out the candles for gold candles, added a few fake branches around the lamp, and filled a vase with mini ornaments and fake berry branches.

Oh and that little snowman guy was a present from a student a few years ago.  He is kind of cheesy but my piano students enjoy pressing the button and making him play.

Next I filled a few more vases with fake snow and mini ornaments.  I have a lot of these cylinder vases because they are from the centerpieces that I made for my wedding.  They were filled with paper dogwood branches that I made.

I also set up a creche on the bookshelf across from the piano.  This is the one that I had growing up.  I bought some ceramic tealight holders at Target.  They are cute when lit up because one has the three wise men and the camels and the other has a nativity scene.

Last year during our city's spring cleaning week, we decided to set my thrift store artificial tree out on the curb.  We always had real trees at my house when I was growing up.  It turns out that using real trees is a more environmentally concious choice than using fake ones.  Also, my cat likes to eat trees and he gnawed on the fake one constantly (and climbed it).  I worry about him ingesting plastic so I would rather he eat actual pine needles.  We picked up this beauty on an extremely cold day in Fargo from a Boy Scout troop.  

I have also been enjoying some holiday baking and I should have a post on that soon as well.  

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The Almost Perfect Crime...and Other Stuff

Above is our lovely Christmas card photo.  I am pretty happy with how it turned out this year!  

So the time period between Thanksgiving and New Years is a time that I feel motivated to do many thing but then I realize that I have started all these projects and suddenly it is December and things get crazy busy for me.  I'm an elementary music teacher and I have a ton of performances during the first three weeks of December.  So all those projects that get started over Thanksgiving break tend to be suspended until all the madness has ended. 

Now on to the almost perfect crime.  Said almost perfect crime was committed by the handsome guy in the photo above.  My husband decided to get an astro start put in my car as my Christmas present.  If you don't live in a place where the winters get really cold, then you may not understand why this is so exciting to me.  When there is a -30 degree wind chill outside, a remote starter is the best thing in the world.  My last car would die in that sort of weather without being started several time in a day.  That meant that I had to go outside in said weather several times a day to start my car, let it run, and then go back out to shut it off.  Now I can just push a button, hallelujah!

This gift was supposed to a surprise for Christmas and my husband almost pulled it off.  He came to the school that I teach at over his lunch break and took my car to the place to have it installed.  I had been considered going to the grocery store over my lunch break to stock up my mini fridge at work.  But...I discovered it was foot long hot dog day in the school cafeteria so I decided to just eat that.  

Normally the key that he has for my car sets of the alarm.  But...I forgot to lock my doors that morning when I got to school.  Also, I normally leave early on Mondays because I teach piano lessons at my home. emergency staff meeting was called so I ended up staying an hour later than I normally would have.  It was perfect...except...he left the manual for the remote on the passenger seat of my car.  His reaction when I handed it to him...Well shoot!  Love it!  

Hopefully soon I will have posts (full of pictures) for these projects: painted guest bedroom (no longer bright green), homemade Christmas gifts for my little sisters, and decorating for a Christmas piano recital.  As my college band director would say, "stay tuned."

Oh and now I am going to watch this while I write a letter to go with my Christmas cards:
I should have this up in my classroom!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

DIY Lined Curtains

 Over the past two weeks, I have been working on curtains for our living room.  My husband was (mostly jokingly) complaining about the lack of curtains in the living room and dining room.  We ended up getting the previous owners to leave all window treatments for us which was really nice in the case of the blinds in the office and the beautiful Roman shades in the full bath.  Most of the curtains in the house, however, were not my taste and did not go with the new paint colors on the walls.  I do like the curtain rods in the living room so I put those back up after painting.

Anyway, back to making curtains.  I ordered the fabric from because I couldn't find anything I liked at the local fabric stores.  I followed this awesome tutorial from House of Hepworths pretty much to a t.  By the way, the fabric that she uses on her curtains is amazing and they sell it at as well. 

The cat decided to "help" with the process of making curtains.  Needless to say, he got locked in the basement for most of the time I was working on these.

I began by measuring the length for the panels and added some extra length at the bottom to account for seams and such.  I decided I wanted two panels on each window even though the windows are rather narrow.  I like being able to push them to the side instead of using a tie-back.  There was a lot of prep work involved in the process before the actual sewing happened but it was fun.
There was a lot of ironing.  I broke our ironing board while working on the bookshelf project so I am using an ironing pad on our dining room table.

Add caption

Ironing the lining.  I used cheap twin flat sheets just like in the tutorial.

Pinning the lining underneath

Trimming the excess lining.  I didn't follow the tutorial exactly here.  She pinned the top and opposite side and then sewed those before trimming and pinning the other side.  I trimmed and pinned the other side and then sewed the whole thing all at once.
Finally sewing!
After I finished these steps on all six curtain panels, I hung them and pinned them up to the length I needed them to be.  In the tutorial, she left them up and hand sewed the hem.  I took mine down because I had quite a bit of excess at the bottom and I am not the greatest hand sewer.  I trimmed a bunch of excess from the bottom then sewed the hems on the sewing machine.

They turned out great and I am so thankful that there are so many great tutorials like this one out there.

Now I am eager to find some fabric for the dining room curtains.  But I also need to find rods for the dining room because Roman shades were the previous window treatment.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Planning, Paint Swatches and Practicum

Okay, so Obama really has nothing to do with today's post but bobble Obama oversees everything that goes on at my desk so I thought I'd throw him up here.  Speaking of politics, sometimes I don't want to watch t.v. this time of year because of all the annoying political ads.  Here in North Dakota the big t.v. ad war is between the senatorial candidates Rick Berg and Heidi Heitkamp.  Now I even see the ads when I watch t.v. online on Hulu.   Annoying!

Anyway, back to houscapades (yes I just made up a word, it is my blog so I can do that:).  Really there isn't much to say about it.  Partly because of the school year starting up and getting back into the swing of things and partly because of our awesome trip to Graz, Austria and Rome, Italy in September.

The famous clock tower on top of the mountain fortress in Graz, Austria


Spanish Steps

Trevi Fountain
The trip was amazing and I am looking forward to making some wrapped canvas like wall art for the living room and dining room with some of the photos that I took.  By the way, the camera purse from the previous post worked awesomely on the trip.  It kept my camera nice and safe.

The other thing that has been eating up all my time is my final project/paper for my masters degree in elementary music education.  I will be so glad when I am done with my masters. The culminating piece of this particular degree is called a practicum and from what I have surmised it is basically a thesis but with a practical element that is usable in your classroom immediately. If you don't care about the specifics of my practicum just skip to the next paragraph;).  My topic is to create a curriculum for beginning band based on the Kodaly Method.  The Kodaly Method is a method for teaching elementary music that is used in many schools throughout the world.  Part of my masters course work included the completion of a program that led to my certification as a Kodaly instructor.  This has been a lot of work because I have been writing and simultaneously implementing the curriculum with my current 5th grade band students.  I am really enjoying the project but the paper will take quite some time to write.  That is why I am taking two semesters to complete it.  I also have to start studying for my oral and written comprehensive exams which I have to take this spring, joy.  I will be a very proud person when I walk across the stage in my half hood this May!

Now there has been a little house work going on in the meantime.  I just ordered some fabric so that I can make curtains for the living room.  I also selected a paint color (Behr Sparrow) for the upstairs guest bedroom and plan to paint that room either over Thanksgiving or Christmas break.  I have also finally selected a paint color for the master bedroom.  At first I had no idea what I wanted.  Then I found an inspiration photo on Pinterest that I loved and after a few months of trying to find a similar color I discovered that a local home and hardware store carried the brand and shade from the picture so I am quite excited about that.  It was good I found it, because I was pretty frustrated after the last color I thought would be the one ended up looking like a kidney on the wall.

Here is what our bedroom has looked like for quite a few months now.  The swatches on the left were added recently.
Ding, ding, ding Ralph Lauren Washboard is the winner!  

I am hoping that I can get this bedroom painted over Christmas break, but we'll see what happens.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Camera Purse

One of my birthday gifts was a sewing machine from my parents.  My mom has passed down many of her talents to me including creativity and cooking but one thing that never seemed to take was sewing.  My mom is an amazing seamstress.  She made all of my Halloween costumes when I was younger and she even sewed the beautiful bridesmaid dresses for my wedding as seen here:
This lovely photo was taken by Frozen Music Studios Photography
My mom tried to teach me how to sew when I was younger and I even took a sewing class in 9th grade but I just never seemed to pick it up.  But now, I want to try again since I can make many things for the house like pillows and curtains.  

My first project on my new sewing machine was to create a way to carry my camera around that didn't involve one of those ugly camera cases.  So using this tutorial, I made a padded insert for a cute purse that I found at Maurices. 

The insert isn't perfect.  I made a lot of mistakes but I am still really proud of how my first sewing project turned out.  I love how a functional camera case is hidden inside a stylish purse.  It even has removable dividers that can be used for extra lenses and other accessories when I actually own some.  I can't wait to carry it around in Europe in a couple of weeks!

Monday, July 30, 2012

It's Been Awhile...

I haven't posted in awhile but it isn't for lack of projects.  A couple of weeks ago was my birthday and here is one of the new toys that I got:
Isn't she a beauty!  She's a Nikon d3100.  The only downfall was she didn't come with a cord so that I could upload photos to my computer so I had to buy a sd card reader.  I finally got around to it today so I am excited to finally post again.  I have some new photos for the living room and dining room and living room.  We'll say that these two rooms are done...for now:).

Here is the living room before:

Pretty dark and drab, right?  So here is what it looks like now:

 Remember this bookcase project?

Now here is the before of the dining room:

There were so many crazy colors going on!  Now here are the afters:

 New hardware makes the built-in look pretty schnazzy:)

There are still a lot of things that I want to do in these two rooms but I am pleased with the way they are looking so far.

Alright, now on to a little organization project.  This project was inspired by a couple of different things that I saw on Pinterest.  I have become an accessory junkie.  I love jewelry, belts, and scarves.  Awhile back I completed this project to display and store all my pretty earrings:

Now I wanted a way to store my scarves and large necklaces and I have seen two different pins using towel bars and shower curtain rings/hooks to hang them.  I decided to combine the two pins by purchasing an over the door towel rack for 10 dollars from Bed Bath and (Way) Beyond and some shower rings and hooks from Target.  And here is how it turned out:

I am definitely happy with how it turned out!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...