Tuesday, December 24, 2013

[ it's that time ]

WISHING you all a very warm and happy holiday full of love and laughter. I'm so grateful for all your comments and support this year. Big hugs! 

See you next year!


[via katiesbliss.tumblr]

Thursday, December 19, 2013

[ peanut butter kisses ]

ONE OF my guy's all-time favourite holiday cookies are Peanut Butter Kisses. This recipe has been around a long time ~ I first made them back in the early 90's (!) and they've always remained a go-to holiday cookie. With only 4 ingredients and no flour, they're super easy and make a cute gift too…

peanut butter kisses

what you need:
1 18oz (500g) jar peanut butter
1 1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 bag Hershey's Kisses

how to:
Preheat oven to 350F. 
Mix together peanut butter, sugar and eggs with hand mixer until well combined. Using a large rounded tablespoon and floured hands or a cookie scoop, drop cookie balls onto an ungreased cookie sheet approximately 1 1/2" apart. Bake 12-14 minutes until tops appear dry and a little crackled.
Remove from oven and press a Hershey's Kiss into each one. Let cool slightly then transfer to rack to cool completely. Store in an airtight container. Makes approximately 32 cookies.



Saturday, December 14, 2013

[ clay ornaments ]

I'VE BEEN doing a bit of decorating around here and decided to create a few new ornaments for our little table-top tree...

Rather than making salt dough ornaments, I found some inexpensive FIMO air drying clay and decided to use that instead ~ no baking required ~ and it dries to a pretty matte white…

A few basic tools like cookie cutters, a rolling pin, parchment or waxed paper for rolling onto and whatever stamps, tools, etc you'd like to use to create pattern and off you go…

I played around with doilies, the round head of a sewing pin, the cap of a marker and some rubber letter stamps to create pattern and words on mine…

A stamp pad can be used to add colour to the letter stamps too…

Although they looked quite grey while I was making them, they dried to a pretty white. They can also be painted if you don't want an all-white look…

I love the way these turned out and they're so much fun to make. I only used 1/3 of the package of clay for these ornaments so far so I can still create quite a few more before the big day.

Have you made any ornaments for your tree this year?


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

[ beef filets in red wine sauce ]

IF YOU'RE looking for an elegant dinner for a special occasion, the holidays or New Year's Eve, this is it. It sounds fancy but it's really very easy. I first made it about 12 years ago for my guy's birthday and it's always a hit ~ I don't know why I don't make it more often! Delicious with mashed potatoes and green beans.

beef filets in red wine sauce

what you need:
2 beef filets, approximately 1" thick
2 tbsp butter
2 garlic cloves, chopped or 1 tsp minced garlic in a jar
2 small shallots, chopped
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tbsp flour
1 cup canned beef broth or beef bouillon cube dissolved in water
1 cup dry red wine

how to:
Season beef filets lightly with salt and pepper.

Melt 1 tbsp butter in a heavy skillet over med-high heat. Sear beef on both sides until brown outside but still pink in centre, about 3-4 minutes per side. Remove beef from skillet and transfer to plate to rest.

Add remaining butter to skillet. Add garlic, shallots and thyme and sauté about 3 minutes. Add flour and stir for about 1 minute.

Add broth and wine. Boil sauce until it thickens and reduces to about 3/4 cup, about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Return beef to skillet with any collected juices on plate and heat through for a minute or so in the sauce. Check filets for doneness and continue cooking for a couple minutes if too pink for your liking. Transfer to plates and serve with sauce.

{This makes enough sauce for 4 filets so if you are serving 4 people, just add a couple of beef filets}.


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

[ someone's having a birthday! ]

HAPPY birthday to my guy today! Still as cute as ever ;)


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

[ removing sap from pinecones ]

IT'S THAT time of year when pinecones take centre stage in holiday decorating. Buying pinecones can be expensive but if you're lucky enough to live somewhere where you can gather them on a walk near the woods, you can easily prepare them for crafting. I had some that I brought back from Canada since finding them in Dubai isn't an easy thing.

But first: remove the sap…

There are a couple of ways you can remove the sticky sap from pinecones: washing them or baking them. I decided to bake them since I figured it would be quicker and much less messy. It worked like a charm.

Line a baking sheet with foil and lay out the pinecones…

Bake in a 200F oven for about 30 minutes or so. Check on them every so often to make sure they're doing ok. Turn them if you like. The sap will drip off onto the foil as the pinecones dry and open up. Your whole house will smell like pine trees while they bake…

Remove from oven and lift them from the foil. Notice how they've opened up and the melted sap has created a lovely hard shine on the tips…

Now they're ready for your decor either au natural or you can add paint or glitter…

Are you decorating with pinecones this Christmas? 

[first pic: via marloes oosterhuis; remaining: mine]

Saturday, November 30, 2013

[ procrastinators ]

I ADMIT, I'm guilty of procrastinating, particularly if it's something I'm not too keen on having to do. I think I'm a few of these rolled into one…

Can you relate to any of them? {click on image to view larger} :)

[via mashable.com]

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

[ indulgences ]

SO I've been pretty good lately when it comes to limiting lots of sweets and goodies. Of course I still cheat but as a whole, I'm doing pretty well. That is, until I heard about these bad boys with the funny name…

…and now I'm slightly addicted. Drat! Have you heard of them? I hadn't but some Dutch expats were raving about them here so of course curiosity got the best of me and I looked for them in the grocery store. Big mistake. And just like potato chips, you can't eat just one. They may only have 60 calories per cookie but they've got 3g of sugar which is what I've been trying to avoid.

What's your latest indulgence?


Saturday, November 23, 2013

[ funny ]

CAN anyone else relate? :)


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

[ handmade cards ]

I LOVE the idea of handmade cards {though I've usually sent out store-bought mostly due to timing and laziness}. But I love that handmade cards allow you to personalize them however you want and make as many as you need at a fraction of the price.

Last year I decided to make some simply ones using my Silhouette {see them here}. This year, I took a different approach and simply used my computer…

I won't pretend that I designed these cute graphics myself ~ I could have but decided to speed up the process a bit and found the LOVE graphic on Pinterest as a downloadable tag freebie {do a search on Pinterest for all sorts of freebies}. Instead of using it as a tag, I thought it would be cute modified into a card so I simply printed off a bunch on a page and trimmed them out…

I went through my stash of craft supplies and found some black card stock that I thought would work and decided that I would write inside with my silver paint pen. But first… I thought they could use a bit of added cuteness so I got out my sewing machine…

…and stitched across the top of each card with red thread. I think it gave them just the right finishing touch.  The office supply envelopes I bought had a faint logo printed on the inside so I designed a little Hello label to hide it... 

I think this year's cards are even cuter than last year's.
Do you make your own cards?

[freebie via onevelvetmorning.wordpress.com]

Friday, November 15, 2013

[ happy weekend! ]

WHAT are you doing to be happy this weekend?

[via pink-pearls-boatshoes.tumblr]

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

[ vroom vroom ]

ONE OF my guy's favourite things is checking out cool cars so this weekend we went to the Dubai Motor Show. If money is no object and you're looking for the latest and greatest, Dubai is the place to see it…

Or if you can't afford to buy one of your own, why not join the Dubai Police and drive one of their fleet cars…

I saw a few things I wouldn't mind like these rugged wheels they don't sell in Canada {perfect for cottage country}…

…but my dream car would be something like this…

What would your dream car be?


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

[ project life ]

SO, unless you've been living under a rock {like I was for the past couple of years}, you've probably heard all about Project Life ~ Becky Higgins' answer to photo albums/scrapbooking/journalling for all of us who are pressed for time or simply lazy...

I've never been a scrapbooker and having lived here in Dubai and Ireland prior to that with limited access to fun supplies and goodies, I hadn't heard of this quite brilliant system for documenting life. Thanks to Pinterest {are you as addicted as I am?}, it opened my eyes to how wonderful it is to document all the things going on in everyday life and how easy it is to make a pretty album by just sliding everything into pocket pages.

Even though I have this blog, which has been an excellent place to make note of everything for the past almost 4 years, I thought it would still be nice to have something to flip through, especially to remember our years as expats.

Becky's system includes binders, photo pocket pages and pretty insert cards...

The preprinted cards can be used to write in some journalling notes or just pop in some of the patterned ones to fill in empty spots. It's designed for weekly documenting which I find to be too much, especially since I'm working my way backwards. 

I decided to create a spread for each month instead, sometimes only one page for a month depending on what I actually had going on. Thanks to iPhoto, my pics are all organized by date so that definitely makes things easier. It's a lot of work going back and sorting through pics, organizing and printing them out but I'm slowly making progress. I bought a couple of different pocket pages but didn't bother with her preprinted insert cards ~ Pinterest has tons of downloadable freebies and I created many of my own. It's turning into a hybrid of text added in Photoshop and handwritten notes and some pasting which is making it interesting. 

Here are some cute examples from Pinterest of completed pages...

As you can see, the options are endless ~ you can make things as simple or as layered as you'd like. I may share a couple of my completed pages once I get them done and my journalling notes added in {it may be a while}. So that's what's been eating up my time.

Have you embraced Project Life?



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