Thursday, December 27, 2007

Adventures in Pretzel Dipping..... easy a ten year old can do it! Melt the caramel in a double boiler. A bowl over a pot of simmering water will do.
Ya gotta do it with a big smile on your face. This IS fun after all!
Set the caramel dipped pretzels on a parchment lined baking sheet until caramel has cooled.
Melt your chocolate the same way you did the caramel and dip the pretzels one more time. Don't forget the spinkles!!!
Put the caramel and chocolate dipped pretzels in a pretty cellophane bag and tie with a bow. Deliver to someone special. The Ballerina and Blondie took these to their teachers.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Thoughful Friends

The past few days...okay, weeks...have been extremely busy and full of all sorts of Christmastime festivities. Both the Ballerina and Blondie have performed in their school choir concerts and last Friday and Saturday the Ballerina danced as a soldier ( soldiers dance?) in four performances of The Nutcracker. Now that things have settled down a little, I'm hoping that I can spend some time blogging about what's been going on. Today I want to take a moment to thank a couple of friends for their thoughtfulness. This little quilt is a gift that I received from Eileen. You may remember the little Trip Around the World quilt that I had hanging in this spot from a previous post. Well, I was in a pinch for a quick table center piece and pull the quilt off the wall to use for that purpose. The next day this quilty gift came in the mail and found an immediate home covering the bare spot on my wall. I love red and green and most of my home is decorated in those colors. You can bet that this little quilt will NOT be tucked away to use again next Christmastime. I can display this little beauty all year long! Thanks, Eileen!
I also received a couple of porcelain acorn/oak leaf ornaments from Kim. I had been admiring these particular ornaments in one of the shops that I visited not too long ago, but decided that I'd already spent plenty of $$ on home dec items and decorations. I figured my kids would be less than thrilled if I told them that they weren't getting any presents this year because all my money was gone, but hey...the house sure looks great! LOL!!!
That Kim! She sure knows how to make a gal happy!!! Thanks, Kim!
Here are a couple of other acorn ornaments on my tree. I received this green and red acorn several years back from my Canadian friend, Pat. Looking at this acorn each year reminds me how blessed I am to have such wonderful online friends. I get that same feeling when I look at other items that have come as an exchange or gift.
I bought this trio of gold acorns at Broadbent's several years ago. Actually, I bought a couple of bunches. The six acorns are symbolic of the six members of our family.

I'm off to help at the school for an hour or so. Tomorrow I'll post some pictures of our adventures in pretzel dipping!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Bundle Up!

Ever wondered how quilters can save energy, thus saving money with which to buy more fabric?

I stumbled across these nine suggestions today at Energy Boomer's blog and thought that they were worth passing on. If nothing else, they'll give you a good chuckle! :-)

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Mini Tree Skirt Swap and Other Stuff

It's been more than a week now since I found a package on my front door step. I was filled with excitement because I knew there was a special gift inside. An online group to which I belong does a gift exchange each year. Last year we swapped quilted Christmas stocking and this year we decided on tree skirts for small Christmas trees, along with three ornaments and some sort of a treat.

I was a very lucky girl! Kristie (Quilt Harvest) had my name this year and she made the above tree skirt using the Thimbleberries Wild Goose Chase pattern. I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw that Kristie had actually cut into her all time favorite Thimbleberries fabric to make my gift. It's the red fabric from the Holly Hill line. See the Christmas tin? It's filled with red and green M&Ms. Kristie knows that I love to snack on M&Ms and drink diet Coke while I sew. She told me that she actually had a diet Coke packed inside a plastic bag and had planned to send it too, but her DH told her that was a bad idea. That's okay...I have diet Coke here at home! LOL!

One of the ornaments that Kristie sent was a little frame with a picture of the two of us at our first Main Street Cotton Shop retreat in Hutchinson, MN. That's me on the right and Kristie on the left. I think that was way back in 2002 or 2003, but Kristie will correct me if I'm wrong.
Above is the tree skirt that I made for my friend, Erica, who lives in Alberta, Canada. I shrunk the Buggy Barn tree skirt pattern from the Stir Crazy book. I was able to get two mini tree skirts from the eight FQs that I used. I still need to finish the one for me.

Here's another picture from my home. Look...there's me and Kristie again! The Trip Around the World quilt is one of the first quilts that I made and is the only one that I have hand quilted. The quilt was actually made from scraps that were left over from a log cabin quilt that I made for my brother's family. I used a free pattern from Connecting Threads that is no longer available (although there is a similar one that is throw sized).
Friday was the 9th grade night dance at the junior high. Blondie (left) and her friend got together early to take a few pictures. These two have been best friends since birth...really! Their birthdays are eight days apart. Although they're both very busy, they spend a lot of their spare time together hanging out with friends in the neighborhood and riding their longboards.
On Saturday the Ballerina (center) invited two of her best friends to Clara's Tea Party. They had a great time eating finger sandwhiches and cookies and listening to the story of The Nutcracker. This Friday and Saturday the Ballerina will be dancing in four performances of The Nutcracker as a soldier. I'm sure there'll be more pictures to come. lol!

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Sad Day

I'm feeling sad today. I got a call at 7:15 this morning to inform me that my friend and neighbor of 17 years passed away at 5:20 a.m. Lynette and her husband found out just 10 weeks ago today that she had colon cancer. As is typically the case, she didn't have any symptoms and only found out when she went to see the doctor about something else.

Please, my dear friends, if you are over 50 years old and you haven't yet had a colonoscopy, make an appointment to have it done now. Those who love you will thank you! Colon cancer is very treatable if caught in the early stages. In Lynette's case the cancer had already spread to her liver and lungs. She was only in her mid 50s and leaves behind her husband, five children and a bunch of grandchildren.

I'll always remember (and will miss) Lynette's gentle smile and shy giggle.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Happy Valley Christmas

So I'm finally getting around to posting some of the pictures of my home as it is decorated for Christmas. This is the tree in our living room. It has all of the fancier ornaments. We also have a tree in our family room that includes the ornaments that have special meaning to our family.

I thought it was pretty funny when my girls commented about how the tree skirt looks just like our Christmas table cloth. LOL! Now that we have a large square table, the Christmas cloth no longer fits. I thought this was a perfect way to give it new life. And I have to admit that I think it looks great. So do the girls. :-)

Look...Mia wants to play the part of baby Jesus when we do the reenactment of that holy night at our family Christmas party. How do you think she'll feel about being wrapped up tight in swaddling clothes? Our long time friends, the Davis', gave us the little manger (that they made) several years ago. It always has a special place under our tree.
And this is what our living room fireplace looks like this year. It's always pretty much the same, except this year I hung snowflakes instead of stockings. I knew that it would provide all sorts of controversy in my home, and it did, but I was in the mood to shake things up a little bit this year. Don't worry...the stockings are still hung. Just not in the traditional way. I'll show you that picture another day.
This is one of my all time favorite nativity sets. My mother made this porcelain creche years and years ago. During my childhood it always had a special place on the buffet in our living room. A few years back I came across it when we were cleaning up after a flood at my parents' home. Since my parents often travel back and forth to their winter home in southern Utah, my mother doesn't do quite as much decorating for the holidays as she used to. This nativity had been sitting in the same box for several year without use so I asked her if I could display it in my home. After a good cleaning it looks as good as new.
This Countryside Wreath quilt hangs in our living room. Michele (Quilting in the Maritimes)and I each made one last fall (2006) during the Utah quilt retreat that I hosted.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Welcome to Blogland, Joan!

Please help me welcome Joan, a longtime Internet friend of mine, to Blogland. (I lifted the above picture from her new blog.) Joan and I first met many years ago when we belonged to the same Yahoo group. Joan leads a very busy life and eventually decided to leave the group, but we have kept in touch occasionally throughout the years. A couple of weeks ago I had a pleasant surprise when Joan contacted me after stumbling across my blog.

Joan, who is a wife and homeschooling mother of eight children, makes amazing quilts for her home and family, and also makes and sells quilts and kits on eBay. Please stop by her blog, Keeping You In Stitches, to say "hi".

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cinnamon Roasted Almonds

On Tuesday morning I went to the mall to pick up a few items from Trade Secret. Immediately upon setting foot inside the mall my senses became overwhelmed with the smell of cinnamon roasted almonds. As I walked down the corridor I passed a little shop that was set up especially for the holiday season. As much as I wanted to stop and buy some sugary cinnamony almonds I resisted and bought only the shampoo, which was my intended purchase.

On the ride home I couldn't shake the though or smell from my mind, so once I got home I came straight to my computer and started searching for a recipe to make my own. After experimenting with a couple of variations I came up with the following recipe. I took these to my quilt guild Christmas party that night where they were a big hit.

You'll be surprised to discover just how easy these are to make! Enjoy!!!


1 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 egg white
1 tsp. vanilla
4 cups almonds

1. Preheat oven to 250 deg. F (120 deg. C). Cover a 13x18" baking sheet with parchment paper (OR grease well).

2. In small bowl combine sugar, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl slightly beat the egg white. Add vanilla and beat until very frothy, but not stiff. Add the almonds and stir until well coated. Add the cinnamon and sugar mixture and toss until evenly coated. Spread evenly on the prepared pan.

4. Bake for one hour, stirring half way through. Allow to cool then store in an airtight container.

Just a note: I found that it was cheaper to buy a large bag of almonds from Costco than it was to buy them from the local restaurant supply store. Since you'll want to make several batches of this recipe, shop around to find the best deal. You can make two batches from a 48 oz. bag of Kirkland Signature almonds from Costco, which contains approx. 9 cups.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

What I've Been Up To

I hope that you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving day! Our family enjoyed a fabulous dinner at the home of my brother and sister-in-law. That evening the rest of my extended family joined together at my home for an evening of desserts, games and visiting. We had a small crowd of 32!

Thanks to all who participated in the controversial candied yams poll. It appears that those in favor outweighed those who passed on the side dish. I mean that figuratively, not literally! LOL!

And because we didn't have quite enough to eat on Thanksgiving day, we were invited to dinner and a concert on Friday evening. And not just any dinner... We ate at The Roof atop the Joseph Smith Memorial building in Salt Lake City. It was a real treat not only to dine there, but also to watch as beautiful, historic Temple Square was lighted for Christmas.

Above is the Christmas tree in the lobby of the JSM building.

And this is one of the shots that I took of the spires of the Salt Lake LDS temple.
More lights. And lots of people!
After checking out the lights we headed across town to the Manheim Steamroller Christmas concert. We had fabulous seats at the tables near the stage! This was the first time that I had gone to one of their concerts. Hubby and I had a great time with all of our friends.

On Saturday the Ballerina and I made a quick trip to southern Utah to return College Girl to her home away from home. We did some shopping, ate dinner at Chili's and spent the night at my parents' winter home in St. George. It was fun to snuggle in bed together as we watch the movie, Elf, on TV. It was so fun to have College girl with us for a few days. We sure miss her when she's gone!
Last night was the Christmas party for the small quilt guild that I belong to. We each took a gift that was $10 or less. I took this little tote that I made from a Teresa Kogut panel from a year or two ago, along with some homemade cinnamon almonds. I'll share the recipe tomorrow. The party was pretty fun and I came home with a little snowman guy (that I put in my kitchen) and a few other holiday favors.
Look...I FINALLY finished binding my Trees on the Table topper. Now I can give it to my mother who's birthday was a couple of weeks ago. Better late than never, huh?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

No Middle Ground

Every year, the day before Thanksgiving, a Salt Lake City radio talk show host discusses those foods that we "just have to have" to make our Thanksgiving meal complete.

Not a year goes by that the controversial candied yams aren't the major focus of the discussion. Over the years one thing has become crystal either love candied yams or you hate them! Honestly, though, I didn't need to listen to the radio to figure that one out. We go the rounds each and every year at our house! I happen to belong to the LOVE camp, while my husband can't stomach the thought of eating them. That doesn't seem to be a problem, though. We have a great arrangement. I make them and he doesn't eat them. You know what that means...more for me!!!

Now I want to hear from you...

First, please give your answer on the poll to the right.

Then leave a comment about that that one item is that you must have to make your Thanksgiving dinner complete!

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Because We Might Still Be Hungry

Just in case we don't get enough to eat on Thursday, we'll have plenty of food to eat when we attend a board meeting at The Roof Restaurant. And if the fine dining isn't enough, Friday is also the night when they turn on the lights at Temple Square, which is a wonder to behold!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Inflicting More Pain

If you're sick and tired of listening to me go on and on about all the fun that I had last week shopping for Christmas decorations, then please skip to the bottom of this post where you will see a picture of my youngest daughter, the Ballerina, frosting a cake.

Today I made a trip to Tai Pan Trading to purchase a Christmas wall sign that I had seen there a couple of weeks ago. TPT is the home decorating mecca of Utah. The Sandy story is 100,000 square feet of decorating overload! I won't post pictures of the things I bought today because you've probably seen more than enough Christmas decorations on my blog. I will, however, post some pictures once the house is decorated. If you want to find out more about TPT then click on the link above to go to their site.

This picture was taken earlier this year. Today the parking lot was FILLED with cars belonging to hundreds of my closest friends.
Look at this pumpkin plate that they gave me for free. I must be one of their favorite customers! One thing that I'm bummed about is that I discovered a 20% off coupon AFTER I got home. It would have saved me several dollars on my sign. :-( And I know that Kim is bummed because Tai Pan Trading has the lime green Christmas ornaments that she's looking for. This is the Ballerina (and Soccer Guy's girlfriend) frosting the spice cake that she made for dessert yesterday. She's really becoming quite the good little baker! See DH in the background? He's washing the dishes like a good husband. LOL!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Play Day (Part 2) promised

I appologize in advance to all of you who wish you were here, but aren't. LOL!!! Kim, if it was tough looking at yesterday's pictures you'd better read (or look) no farther. Below are the pictures that I took at our second stop yesterday, Scrooge and Marley's. When I asked the shop keepper if could take pictures to show my friends she told me "yes" and that she was "flattered". Isn't that sweet? The woman at Broadbent's was just as kind.
Although this shop has been around for a while, I only first visited it this year. Again, I appologize to all of you who came to Utah last year and didn't get to step foot into this amazing shop. It's just about 1/4 mile down the street from Broadbent's. This little old home is filled to the rafters with everything you need to decorate your home (and all your neighbors') for the holidays.
I love everything about this table. The white dishes, the greenery and berries, and the candy canes...
Oh the candy canes! They're wonderful, they're real and they're made by Hammond's Candies. They had baskets and baskets full. I just checked out the Hammond's website and discovered that they'll be showing these candy canes on Martha Stewart on Monday, November 26th. You can check out their website to see if there is a location near you that sells these sweet confections. Don't you think that ribbon adds such a nice touch?

It was in this room that I bought some garland to send along with my tree skirt swap. I may need to go back and get some more for myself. Seen enough? No?! Well then let's walk out back to the "shed".....

Now this is some porch, wouldn't you say?! See that "It's a Wonderful Life" sign on the tree to the left? I bought two of those. One for myself and one for my brother and sister-in-law, to who's home we are going for Thanksgiving. I think I'll add mine to the wreath that goes on my front door.

Come on now... Let's step inside the shed for a look around.

Well, that's it for today. Thanks so much for stopping by!