Old-New Recipe Box

As part of my Christmas gift, Dan got me a vintage tin recipe box.

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The date on it is 1931! Of course, I loved it.

Along with the gift came 20 recipe cards worth of free recipe transcribing. You see, I don’t keep the best track of my recipes. They are all shoved into a filing folder and stuffed into a corner on my kitchen counters. When I need a recipe, I basically have to look through the whole thing to find what I’m looking for.

The idea behind the recipe box is one of de-cluttering and easier access. I’ll only put our favorite recipes in the box. You know, the tried and true dinners and desserts that I’m always coming back to in my recipe planning. I figure that the recipe box is also a great way to weed out new recipes I try. I’ll make it once. If we love it, it’ll get transcribed onto a card. If not, the recipe gets tossed. No use keeping around a bunch of just OK recipes when there’s some great food out there.

Additionally, the recipe box will be a motivator to try new dishes. In fact, we’ve decided to take a week in January and eat nothing but new foods. Whether home cooked or out at a restaurant we’ve never tried before, every dish we eat will be new to us. It’ll be a challenge, but it should be a fun experiment.

What made the recipe box?

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Appetizers
Avocado salsa

Main Dishes
Chilaquiles casserole
Sloppy joe meatloaf
Honey soy broiled salmon
Fall couscous
Grilled portobello mushroom burgers
Sesame crusted chicken with pineapple rice
Buttermilk cider chicken

Desserts
Chocolate gooey butter cookies
French macarons
Zucchini bread
Nutella swirl pound cake
Honey yogurt panna cotta
Fresh blueberry pie
Popcorn puffs
Anginetti
Nonna’s befana

Breakfast
Whole wheat blueberry pancakes

Other
Phoebe’s PB Treats

If you have any great recipes, I’d love to try them. Maybe they’ll even be elevated to recipe box status!

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Best DIY Christmas Gifts

I’ve given some DIY gifts lately, but I think these Christmas presents are by far my favorite and the best DIY gifts I’ve ever done.

The first two were for our two nieces to share, and I am more than impressed by what Dan and I were able to create.

Project #1: Food for the play kitchen[[posterous-content:pid___0]]Dan’s parents got the girls a play kitchen for Christmas, so play food was on their Christmas lists. I looked around for some kits, but didn’t see anything I liked. So, we decided to take on this project ourselves.

I started by checking out felt food projects on Pinterest. Some people made the cutest felt food! I knew we wouldn’t do the super fancy stuff, so we stuck to the basics. Here’s what we ended up making:

Bacon, eggs, pancakes, a pop tart

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A Sandwich (and all the fixings)

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Steak, green beans, and potatoes

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Sushi

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And pasta with sauce.

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We didn’t have patterns or anything. Instead we just tried to emulate what we saw and used as our examples.

Project #2: Finger Puppet Nativity Set

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Our older niece is really interested in learning about baby Jesus, especially the nativity story. Last year, she got a Little People Nativity playset for Christmas, and she played with it all the time. We thought she’d enjoy these puppets and could use them whenever she was learning about the story.

Again, I turned to Pinterest for ideas. I couldn’t find any patterns, so we had to freehand everything.

We started by deciding which Nativity scene participants we would be making. We ended up choosing Mary (with Jesus), Joseph, the three wise men, a shepherd, an angel, and a sheep.

We used the same basic shape for each body, using different colored felt for each puppet. Once I sewed them together, I used a pen and some red fabric paint to draw in facial features.

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To hold all of the puppets together when not being played with, I sewed a basic envelope together where they can be stored.

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Project #3: Mo Mug

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Dan raises money for men’s cancers in the month of November by growing a mustache. I thought it would be fun to give a gift that acknowledges his efforts. I started with a simple Dollar Store mug and used a Pebeo Porcelaine paint marker to draw directly onto the mug. I used a stencil taped to the mug to draw the outer lines of the mustache, then painted in the rest of it. You have to cure it in the oven, but the paint should be microwave and dishwasher safe.

Did you give any DIY presents this year?

I Bake

With the holiday season comes cakes and cookies abound. I thought I’d give you a peak of all of the baked goods my kitchen has seen this holiday season.

It all started with a Desserts & Drinks holiday party I hosted a few weeks ago. There, I served popcorn puffs,

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eggnog cupcakes with rum glaze and cheesecake brownies,

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and chai gingerbread bars.

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At the party, we had a cookie exchange in lieu of giving gifts. My homemade treat? Peppermint macarons.

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I usually give treats as part of my gifts to people, usually with coffee, tea mix, hot chocolate, a cookie jar, well, you get the idea.

This year was no different. I made peppermint biscotti,

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and chocolate biscotti.

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For those with furry friends, I baked some sweet potato and peanut butter treats.

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Not pictured: the ooey gooey chocolate cookies that have quickly become a favorite of many of my friends.

Then, for Christmas Eve and Christmas day, I baked some more.

I didn’t snap a photo of my eggnog pound cake for Christmas Eve, but I did get a quick shot of the Christmas Cookie Balls (much like these Halloween cookie balls) I made for the little kids in my family.

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Saving the best for last, my grandma taught me how to make a childhood favorite Italian cookie. She calls it befana.

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I was so glad she took the time to teach me. I’ll be sure to make these holiday staple cookies for years to come.

I’m not quite done with all the baking yet. I still have two New Year’s Eve events to bake for, and I haven’t yet decided what to make. Requests?

 

Rustic Reindeer Pillow

Continuing sharing my holiday crafts with you, I thought I’d next turn to the reindeer pillow I made.

Cute, huh?

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Every since I knew I’d never wear those green and red patterned dress shirts anymore, I knew the fabric would make an adorable Christmas pillow. Originally, I was planning to use the green fabric to make a tree and sew it onto a plain red fabric square. But, I’ve recently been on a reindeer kick, so I figured cutting out reindeer instead of a tree wouldn’t be much more difficult.

I started with two shirts, and an old pillow leftover from my all pink bedroom before I got married.

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Yep, that means this project was completely and 100% free.

To start, I measured my pillow. 13″x13″. Add on an extra inch to allow for seams, and I knew I needed two 14″x14″ squares. Then I got to thinking. My shirt was a button down. Why didn’t I just use the buttons to make a slipcover that can be easily removed? It worked like a charm. I just cut a 14″x14″ square into the shirt, and left all the buttons. Way easier than trying to take off the buttons and sew two pieces of the fabric together to account for it (since I wouldn’t have gotten a 14″x14″ square from the front of the shirt).

Once the squares were cut, I used my reindeer cookie cutter (from a set I had purchased after last Christmas for 50% off at Crate & Barrel) to trace the outline of the reindeer on the red fabric. I cut out four of them and sewed them onto the green fabric square (the piece without the buttons) that I already had cut.

What to do from here was easy. I turned the fabric inside out and started sewing. By hand. Yep, still no sewing machine. It didn’t take that long though. Then comes the part where I always hold my breath, I turn the fabric right side out and slide the pillow in to see if it fits.

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It worked! Fantastic!

I have to say, the slip cover is so much better than having a regular pillow.

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I can take the case on and off easily, which means I can swap it out for something else when the holidays are over. And, a folded up slipcover takes up way less space in my holiday decorations box than a pillow would.

Christmas Countdown: 4 days to go!

Bad Blogger

I’ve turned into a bad blogger. Here I am, trying new recipes, baking a ton of Christmas goodies, crafting out the whazoo, and I’m not sharing any of it. There’s been no time!

Here’s the post where I try to get back on track.

The house has been decked out in its holiday finest, from the tree, to the wreath I made, to all the presents wrapped and under the tree, I’ve been busy.

I thought I’d share the Christmas craft that started the season for me – the Advent calendar.

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Instead of a candy or treat each day, I made tags that list a different holiday activity for each day, to make it more personal. I put some old favorites in there, like bake Christmas cookies, decorate a gingerbread house, and watch “Elf,” but I also included new traditions I hoped to start, like sharing childhood memories of Christmases past, learning how to make my grandma’s Christmas cookies, and hitting you tube for some traditional Italian Christmas songs.

I’ll admit, it was a struggle to get through all of the activities with our differing schedules. And of course, we sometimes had to double up on the holiday activity, but we did it.

So, how did we male the calendar?

The only things purchased for this project were from the dollar store and totaled $3. Those items were the plain wood frame and two sets of numerical stickers.

I started by spray painting the frame, though you don’t have to. I used leftover green spray paint.

Next, I cut some packing paper for the background of the calendar.

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Then, I downloaded a template from flickr that was the shape of an envelope. Take some festive scrapbook paper and use them for your envelopes.

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Once they’re made, arrange them in the frame to a pattern you like. I did five rows of five. Glue on the envelopes.

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I numbered the first 24 envelopes with silver numbers. I used green numbers for Christmas day.

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To finish off the project, I cut out 25 tags out of white card stock. To make this step easier, you can always buy them instead. I wrote down one activity on each card in red pen, then punched a hole in each tag to tie on some red ribbon.

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That’s it.

Put the calendar in a prominent place in your home, and remember to do your Christmas activity each day.