The day before our daughter’s birthday in early December, we finally started decorating our house. Then we decorated some more before we hosted Christmas Eve. If we just keep inviting family over for every occasion, our house could be all decorated by the time the year is over. Although I wouldn’t recommend doing it that way.
Don’t tell Cecilia, but Freddy’s room is becoming my favorite room in the house. Maybe it’s because it has all the cute baby stuff that Cecilia’s room once held, and that isn’t scattered all over his floor…yet. It could also be that there is a shelf dedicated to Sam’s old cars, trucks and guitar.
A collection of collected items
Curtains made by my mama
We’re currently working on some curtains for Cecilia’s room and painting a farm-themed mural with stencils from My Wonderful Walls, that were gifted to us for her birthday from my dad and stepmom. Can’t wait to get started on that!
We hung up some framed prints from some of my favorite local ladies – Graphic Anthology, Pigment and Parchment and Semi Sweet Press – in our dining area. The birthday decorations are down now (minus the doily bunting – we kept that up), and I’m working on adding more to that space.
Sam did this to our living room. He calls it “hoarder chic.”
There are still some pieces I want to add in our living room and then I’m off to work on our bedroom and the workspace in the back. But that will all have to wait until after Freddy joins us. For now, I’m enjoying this precious time with our family of three.
What home projects are you working on? What do you have in store for the future? Share in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!
Today, we are taking down our holiday decorations, cleaning out old stuff to welcome the new and all in all regrouping from the last couple of weeks. I have come to really love and appreciate all the time spent with family, but it’s also nice to have some downtime as well. I’ve come to appreciate that just as much.
This quiet time has allowed me to do some thinking, planning and organizing. And here’s what’s inspiring and motivating me right now:
Slow Simmering Bitch, Canning for a New Generation, The DIY Cookbook, Secrets of Slow Cooking5 ha
I’ve been slowly starting a collection of cookbooks, including my latest one – Canning for a New Generation. I went through them all and these are my going to be in constant rotation over the next few months.
5 Habits to Adopt in the New Year / Photo Credit: Christi Fenly/ Written by Carrie McBride / Apartment Therapy
DIY Burp Rags / Photo Credit: Life With My Littles
DIY Burp Rags from Life With My Littles – I have wanted to take up sewing for some time now, and I honestly believe that this is my year, dammit.
I used Hello Natural‘s DIY skin and candle recipes for the majority of my homemade gifts last year, and they were thoroughly loved. Looking forward to making more stuff from one of my very favorite websites!
Next year is going to push me more than anything has before. I will be a stay-at-home mother of two, attending school and hopefully growing my creative business. I have spent many, many sleepless nights attempting to calculate how it all work out. How I will be able to do it all without losing it.
And the truth is – I have no idea. Some days it will seem easy, and other days I will look back and wonder if I actually accomplished anything that day. Because that is the same thing that happened this year, and the year before. And I was just as scared and nervous before this journey started. The day I found out about her.
Some days I feel brave, and others I don’t. But deep down, I know I am. After all, it’s how I got here. So I don’t know how next year is going to go. But I do know that there will be good days, bad days, great days and horrible days. I know I will laugh and I will cry. But, regardless of how each days turns out, I will continue to be brave.
There are some things I want to work on in the next year, like:
*taking more time for myself and my family
*getting collected + made into a retail store as I won’t have much time for craft shows and growing my online store
*building a creative collective
*growing my blog
*learning to take things one step at a time and trying really, really hard to not rush everything
Our house has officially turned into my workshop for the next couple of days. There are gift-making supplies in the kitchen, in the living room and on our dining room table. I’ve been so busy with school that I haven’t had time to really make anything besides the apple butter so today it begins!
For my first homemade gift, I made vanilla bath salts with a super simple and easy recipe from Hello Natural!
All you need is a cup of epsom salt, a cup of sea salt and a tbsp of vanilla extract. Mix, and done! This batch made three half-pint jars.
Then, I used my canning labels I got from Graphic Anthology to make the gift extra sweet!
I also did a trial run of the gingerbread magic cake recipe I got from Foodness Gracious to make sure it would be a good holiday treat – and because it looked super delicious and I wanted to make it.
The recipe said to bake the cake for 50-55 minutes, or until the center was not jiggly. With my oven, it ended up taking me 1:10 – 1:15 to get it at the right consistency. It’s supposed to be more of a custard on the inside so don’t be alarmed (like I was) if it doesn’t come out with more of a cake consistency. (Also, read the full recipe and post before you try a recipe).
The cake turned out pretty darned good, but I think I might give it another whirl before serving it for the holidays. Need to make sure I can master the custard consistency without overbaking it.
And while we’re on the topic of food, today is the last day to enter the giveaway to win a dozen caramels from Rebel Confectionery!
Nut Brittle / Photo Credit: Deb Ray / Rebel Confectionery
You can get the recipe for Deb’s nut brittle and enter the giveaway by clicking the picture or here.
And since I’m in the giving mood, I’m also adding a giveaway of my Tis the Season print!
Last year, I unknowingly started a Christmas tradition when I gave apple butter as gifts to our family. I’ve been asked to make it again this year, and I can’t say that I mind. I’m using the same recipe from My Baking Addiction that I used last year as it was quite the hit.
If you already have a slow cooker, then I highly suggest making a batch of your own. If you don’t have one, you still have time to get it before Christmas! The recipe is super simple and easy to follow. I’m sharing my experience with it today, along with free printable labels from Graphic Anthology!
So, here are the ingredients you’ll need:
6 1/2 pounds apples – peeled, cored and sliced
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
I don’t have an apple peeler, and I think it’s about time that I get one, especially before next Christmas. For right now, I just use a sharp knife and try to cut as thin as possible.
The recipe says to throw your peeled apple slices in the slow cooker, and then mix in the dry ingredients. Cook that covered for 10 hours on low. I love starting it at night so that the house smells delicious in the morning.
Then you’re supposed to add the vanilla and cook it uncovered on low for two more hours. I always get distracted and add the vanilla from the start. I haven’t had any complaints doing it this way, but I do want to follow the recipe correctly next time to see what difference it makes.
After it’s done in the slow cooker, the recipe says to use an immersion blender to turn it into butter, but I don’t have one yet so I use my potato masher. Then, you put the apple butter into sterilized mason jars.
My batch filled four 8 oz jars
After that, I use my pressure canner to finish the job. You don’t need one, but it will make the apple butter last longer (and you’ll look super official). If you don’t have a canner, make sure that you tell them to either store in the fridge and use within two weeks, or to put it in the freezer.
Once it’s done in the canner, I use these labels on the tops of my cans! This is especially helpful since I’m also making a batch of sugar-free apple butter this year and don’t want the two to get mixed up! And it adds that extra homemade charm when giving them as gifts.
Genesis Duncan from Graphic Anthology was sweet enough to gift me and my readers with free downloadable canning labels, for both normal and wide-mouth canning jars. For the apple butter, you will probably use the regular labels, but be sure to keep the wide-mouth labels for any other canning you will be doing!
I met Genesis a month ago, when I saw her at the GOOD Design Market and I have already purchased recipe cards and a print, and I got a beautiful shibori tea towel from her at the craft swap. So I was really excited when she offered the labels for my post!
You can download the canning labels below. The labels may need to be aligned first, depending on your printer margins. It might be a good idea to do a test run first to make sure you got it right. You can also print them on bigger labels and use a circle punch to cut them out.
So, there you have it – homemade apple butter with your own labels! Be sure to check out the rest of Genesis’s work at Graphic Anthology – she has lots of fun stuff for your kitchen! You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!
Since we’re not going big on the gifts for the adults this Christmas, I thought it would be fun to make them little baskets with some homemade food, candles and skin care. I have the food and candle ideas down, and now I’m finding inspiration for some skin care gifts.
And then if I like the way turn out, I’ll keep some for myself!
Here are a few good gift ideas for the skin:
DIY Vanilla Sugar Cookie Body Scrub / Photo Credit: Lindsey Johnson / Hello Natural
I love all the skin care recipes from Hello Natural, and this one is no different! I just need to get a few ingredients before I make it, but other than that, it’s stuff most people have in their house and it’s a simple and easy recipe. Can’t wait to try it out!
Homemade Fall Face Mask / Photo Credit: Alyssa / Alyssa & Carla
Hey, another excuse to use pumpkin in a recipe! This Fall Face Mask from Alyssa & Carla looks equally delicious and good for you. It’s a simple recipe with simple ingredients (that I actually have) so I think will be making this today.
I’ve been looking for a good lotion for a while and this Oatmeal Honey Shea Butter Lotion from Sincerely, Kinsey just might be it! If I can get the emulsifying wax in time for Christmas gifts, I’ll be able to make some lotions with this. If not, I’ll just make it for myself later!
I’ll be making some of these skin care gifts over the weekend and I’ll be sharing my experience with you on here! Maybe even do a giveaway for after Christmas, eh?
Have a fun DIY Holiday project, gift idea or recipe? Did you try any of these recipes? Share in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!
Today, I’m excited to have another guest on the blog! I met Deb Ray through my connection with Beers in Sac when I wrote an article that featured her, and we have remained virtual pals ever since! I met her in real life at a Beers in Sac event a while back, and she gifted me a grab bag of caramels and jams – every bite just as delicious as the next.
Deb has been canning since the early 90s and starting making caramels about ten or so years ago. She is certified as a master food preserver and using U.S. Home Preservation guidelines utilizes local, seasonal fruits to craft her jams in small batches and has won several Best Of and First Place awards at the California State Fair.
Earl Grey Tea Caramel topped with Preservation & Co.’s Citrus Rosemary Salt
Today, she is sharing a recipe for nut brittle and she is also offering a gift certificate for a dozen caramels of the winner’s choice of a single flavor! Check out the recipe and giveaway below!
I found this recipe online several years ago when looking for a brittle recipe to break out for the holidays. Most of the ones I found didn’t have the richness I was looking for. This one is all about the butter. An entire stick of it. It’s crisp, rich and thicker than a traditional brittle. And it definitely has that salty sweet thing going on.
Medium sized, heavy pot
2 c sugar
½ c water
1 stick butter
1/3 c light corn syrup
½ tsp baking soda
12 ounces roasted, salted peanuts, cashews, pistachios, singularly or as a mix (I use 2 c nuts)
Fleur De Sel or Maldon Salt
It helps to get your ingredients ready prior cooking. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, water, butter and corn syrup and bring to a boil.
Cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the caramel is light brown and registers 300° on a candy thermometer, 10 minutes. Deb’s Tip: Once temp reaches 280 degrees, it increases very quickly to 300. Watch your thermometer!
Remove from the heat and carefully stir in the baking soda. The mixture will bubble. Stir in the nuts, then immediately scrape the brittle onto a large rimmed, nonstick baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Deb’s Tip: Cover blob of brittle with parchment and use a rolling pin to roll into an even thickness. Sprinkle with salt. Let cool completely, about 30 minutes. Break the brittle into large shards.
And now for the giveaway part! Deb is kind enough to offer a gift certificate for a dozen caramels of a single flavor of the winner’s choosing! This is valued at $15 and would be the perfect gift to yourself for surviving the holidays!
Here are the flavors to choose from. You can also find them on her website:
The Side Car – Brandy, Orange and a Twist of Lemon: a riff on the classic cocktail
There was too much going on over the weekend that kept me from blogging. Not that I minded, except for the homework part of course! I had my very first vending experience at a pop-up shop hosted by my friend Rosaura Unangst from Pigment & Parchment and then my friend Amy from Amy is the Party invited me to Holly Jolly Pop-Up hosted by Artsy Heartsy, where we made beautiful floral crowns, got yummy donuts and were inspired by the amazing holiday decor.
Here are some photos from all the weekend fun we had:
Handmade Holiday Pop-Up on Saturday, followed by Christmas lights with the little one
So, there’s my makeshift booth at the Handmade Holiday Pop-Up. Sold a couple things and shared a patch of grass with Lemonee on the Hills, who I met for the first time. She is awesome, and so are her pillows, totes, therapeutic bags and more – all made with her photography!
Sweet Dozen was there, with this masterpiece. I grabbed a six-pack of donut holes (the only kind of six-pack I can get right now) and they were so good with my coffee this morning! And with my cider yesterday.
More styling inspiration from Artsy Heartsy, my fun and lovely mess from the Scarlett & Grace floral crown workshop and our swag from Paper Heart Patisserie, Compliment and more!
Now, time for the DIY post of the day.
After you make your beautiful DIY Christmas gift, you need something to put it in. And no ordinary, run-of-the-mill gift wrap will do for a unique gift like yours. Luckily, there are plenty of fun gift wrap options you can make that will probably cost less than the store-bought kind.
DIY Gift Wrap / Photo Credit: Carmel / CRAFT
This simple gift wrap from Carmel of Our Fifth House on CRAFT is wonderfully easy – all you need is some Kraft paper, fabric scraps, bakers twine and little sprigs of greenery! She also includes a tutorial for making a fabric scrap bow. Perfect!
DIY Craft Scraps Gift Wrap / Photo Credit: Mandi Johnson / A Beautiful Mess
Gift Tags from Magazine Pages / Photo Credit: Lisa / Decor8 Blog
I love these gift tags from magazine pages! I have so many magazines I never use anymore and these would be the perfect excuse for hoarding them all this time! Check out the full tutorial from Lisa of the red thread on Decor8!
Ok, I hope you enjoyed this super long post and got some inspiration from it. Tomorrow, I’ll have a delicious nut brittle recipe and a chance to win a gift certificate from Rebel Confectionery!
A room in the house that frightened me before, the kitchen has become my sanctuary. I love getting in there and focusing on creating something from scratch, with my hands. Now that we have our own kitchen in our own house, I’m starting to pick out more and more items for this space to make it all my own.
My newly developed love for this magical area has inspired my post today – DIY gifts for the kitchen lovers. We all have at least one in our family.
I have been wanting to get into creating with wood for a while now, and this would be the perfect time to get going on this. I love this cutting board tutorial from Amy Christie on Design Mom because her work is so inspiring and she shows you many options for how to design your boards. You can literally do anything with this, as long as you can etch it in wood.
If you’re not comfortable with drawing on the board or you want to try a different approach, read this post on Wood-Transfer Monograms from Fairgoods.
I could probably write an entire post on different ways to make tea towel gifts, but why do that when Apartment Therapy has done it so well. I love these stenciled tea towels from Lovely Indeed because they look rather easy to do, only take about a half hour, and are completely customizable. What more can you ask for, really?
DIY Pallet Coffee Cup Holder / Photo Credit: One Little Bird
I’m going to be honest when I say that this is probably not something I will get to this year. We’re now officially less than two weeks away from Christmas (scary, I know) and I just won’t get to it in time. But how perfect would this DIY Pallet Coffee Cup Holder from One Little Bird be for the coffee lover in your family? I have so many of them. I’d actually make one for our house too – once I got around to it.
And for an added bonus for all your Sacramento people:
Handmade Holiday Pop-Up Shop / Image by Pigment & Parchment
Holly Jolly Pop-up Shop / Image by Artsy Heartsy Events
My lovely friend Amy from Amy is the Party got 2 VIP tickets to this Holly Jolly Pop Up on Sunday and she invited me to go with her! It looks like it’s going to be a lot of fun – there will be food, drank, vendors, workshops and more! You can get your tickets here and all the proceeds go to Sacramento Steps Forward’s Winter Sanctuary – providing Sacramento’s most vulnerable residents some essential services during the coldest months to help them get on the path to self-sufficiency.
Have a fun DIY Holiday project, gift or recipe to share? Did you try any of these tutorials? Know of anything cool going on in Sacramento this weekend? Share any and all of that in the comments and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!
Popcorn is such an underrated snack food. It’s easy to make and pretty darned versatile. You can eat it plain, make it spicy, make it savory or make it sweet. You can use it in a mix of pretzels and chocolate and it’s the perfect finger food for parties. So, to give popcorn the credit it deserves, I’m sharing a few flavored popcorn recipes.
Oh, holy moly. This peppermint bark popcorn from Cooking Classy looks delicious, and a perfect dessert option on Christmas to go with your cupcakes, cake, brownies, cookies and whatever other delicious treat is at your dinner. This is also perfect to bring if you’re a guest at someone’s holiday party.
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup Popcorn / Photo Credit: Two Peas and their Pod
My love for peanut butter and chocolate is like no other. And this is yet another amazing recipe from Two Peas and their Pod, which they adapted from The Kitchn. I will definitely be trying this recipe, for Christmas and beyond.
Spicy Pepper Jack Cheese Popcorn / Photo Credit: Melanie / It Happens in a Blink
This pepper jack cheese popcorn from It Happens in a Blink is a perfect appetizer for those of us who like things a little on the spicier side. Pepper jack cheese is my all-time favorite cheese and I have all of these ingredients already, so I might be doing a test run of this recipe…today.
And for another savory recipe, one of my beautiful partners Heather Leigh is sharing a her favorite flavored popcorn recipe on the blog today:
Get a bag of popcorn or pop your own, and…
1/4 cup dry Italian Seasoning (or the equivalent mixture of thyme, basil, and oregano)
1/4 cup taco seasoning
1/2 teaspoon salt (depending on your taste buds)
Mix together and sprinkle on popcorn to taste.
The extra can be stored in a jar in your cupboard.
You won’t need butter, and it doesn’t take much salt, so it is a great snack. Hope it comes out good!
Have a fun DIY Holiday decor project, gift idea or recipe? Did you try any of these recipes? Share it here and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest! Interested in becoming a partner? Find out more here and check out the December special!