Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Holiday cupcakes... to die for!

As I mentioned in my Christmas recap post here...
 I made some delicious cupcakes for Christmas Eve...
 I. mean. DELICIOUS.  { if I do say so myself }

The recipe for these masterpieces is from the amazing Bakers Royale, get it here... you must make a yummy batch for yourself!  

I did have to change up the recipe a tad because I was unable to find any Peppermint Andes Mints, so I substituted Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark instead...  
honestly I don't even think the candy is necessary and would likely make them without next time or at least chop it a little more than I did this time.

I also used Hershey's Special Dark Unsweetened Cocoa Powder instead of the Scharffen Berger Unsweetened Natural Cocoa Powder that is mentioned in the recipe and it worked wonderfully!

I was so very happy with how these cupcakes turned out... PERFECT
{ Do you see the dome/top on those babies? Like I said perfect. }

The frosting on these lovelies is Swiss Meringue Buttercream { my new FAVE } with a touch of
peppermint extract.

I found that the Swiss Meringue is very similar to the Italian Meringue Buttercream that I've used before, except it's seems a tad easier to make { win. win. }

You may have noticed that another thing I chose to change or should I say leave out (if you looked at the recipe that is)...  was the chocolate drizzle, instead I topped the cupcakes with
a chunk of the peppermint bark-- making them simply perfect!

These cupcakes are absolutely delicious...
 the prefect blend of chocolate and peppermint with a hint of coffee
{ dare I say... better than an actual peppermint mocha... gasp! }

You need to try them yourself...  you will not be disappointed, well... as long as you don't
dislike peppermint.

Do you have a recipe you made for the holidays that you absolutely LOVED?
I would love to hear about it...  { smile }

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas weekend was a blast!

So for my Christmas weekend recap I'm linking up with From Mrs. to Mama for the Show me Christmas link-up...

Our Christmas weekend started Friday night with the arrival of Grandma and Papa!  We were so excited for their visit, they were here for almost 3 full days.  The prince LOVES spending time with all of his grandparents, it's such a joy to see him with them and how happy they all  are when together.

For Christmas Eve, I spent the morning cooking a nice brunch for the hubby, prince and my parents.  I decided on doing brunch because the hubby had to work until 11am and I wanted to make a nice breakfast for everyone to enjoy, so by putting breakfast off for a few hours the hubby then got to enjoy it with us.

So for brunch we had whole wheat brown sugar banana bread pancakes...  

Recipe courtesy of "how Sweet it is", get it here.
Delicious and very filling...  perfect for Christmas Eve morning  { smile }

Along with cooking brunch I also spent some time baking  { LOVE }
I found a recipe for some cupcakes that I thought would be perfect for Christmas...  
Peppermint Mocha cupcakes = delicious!!

Recipe courtesy of Bakers Royale, get it here.
More to come in a future post about these { PERFECT } cupcakes, I promise!!

We took these { PERFECT } cupcakes to Mom Woods' house for a yummy dinner of pizza followed by the Christmas Eve service at the First Baptist Church of Darrington.  

It was then time to get home so I could get to work on my last sewing project...  

Tutorial courtesy of Make it Perfect, get it here.

"Peek-a-Boo" toy sack { FILLED } with cars!  I was so happy with how easy this project was, I will definitely be making at least one more of these.

Christmas morning came at about 6:30am...  and there were lots of presents for opening followed with lots of smiles and even a few tears...

These would be the tears I mentioned...  Grandma was so very happy with the Shutterfly book I created for her and Papa all about the prince.  I will definitely be doing more of these for gifts in the future!

Here's a looksee at all of the great gifts I got this year...

A glass bowl for my KitchenAid mixer { LOVE }

A Silpat and new cookie/bar sheet { another LOVE }

The slicer and shredder attachment for my beloved KitchenAid mixer.

And a microwave, a gift for both me and the hubby.  We've been without one for almost four months now..  a BIG thank you goes to my brother and Claire for this AMAZING gift!

Christmas day was made perfect by all of the wonderful family and friends that we got to spend the entire day with...  

I hope you had a wonderful holiday weekend, too!

Now bring on the new year!!

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve has finally arrived.

Can you believe that it is FINALLY Christmas Eve?  I swear each year goes by faster than the last, but I'm not complaining because I love celebrating this holiday with my family and friends, especially the prince!!

And seeing as how it is Christmas Eve this Keep Calm seemed most fitting { smile }

So here are a couple of pictures of what I've been up to the last few days, most specifically a photo of the yummy-delicious baked "fried" chicken I was raving about here.

Like I said it's delicious!  Both hubby and prince approved.

Also hubby approved is this wonderful recipe that we had last night for dinner with my parents...

These are Chicken enchiladas in a green chili sour cream sauce...  another yummy-delicious recipe.
Seeing as I gave the print out of the recipe to my mom, if you wanna try these you'll need to get the recipe from Joyful Momma's Kitchen...  here.

And lastly...  my first attempt at sewing a binding to something...

{ OUCH! } my fingers sure got poked a lot... like A LOT!!

But it was well worth the pain and I can't wait to see my mom's reaction when she opens her gift tomorrow.

One more thing...

Photo courtesy of Bakers Royale, get the recipe here.

I'm gonna be making some of these for tonight, Peppermint Mocha cupcakes...  
do you know how difficult it is to find peppermint Andes mints?!?!  Well, let me assure you it was DIFFICULT, cause I never actually found any.  So I'm putting in some Ghirardelli Peppermint Bark instead, surely it will be similar...  if not better { smile }

Okay!  Now get back to your holiday weekend and enjoy loving your family and friends!

Merry Christmas
Happy Holidays
from my family to yours!

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Who doesn't love fried chicken that...


What could be better than baked chicken that tastes like fried chicken, minus the calories from the skin and fat?!?!  I. know.  =  heaven.

Unfortunately I didn't snap any pictures of this wonderful chicken, instead I give you this...

and the link for the recipe of this masterpiece chicken  { smile }

Get it HERE from Our Life Uncommon!  BTW, for the 1 tbsp Season All I used Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning instead  { I've loved this stuff for a long time - get some! }

SERIOUSLY.  It was delicious.  Enough said.  You need to try it!  

And thank you to Pinterest, of course you know that's where I first saw it!!

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Can you believe it's Christmas week?

Besides working this week, I'll be picking up the last few presents for this little stinker...

These are a few pictures I snapped while we waited in line to see Santa.  I know it's hard to tell, but the prince was actually quite excited to see Santa { smile }

You'll have to stay tuned for pictures with Santa because the prince, who was so excited to see Santa, decided he didn't feel so comfortable sitting on the big guy's lap this year or even talking to him once we got to see him...  and the picture of Santa and the prince turned into a family picture, luckily Santa was able to sneak into the picture with us.

And we would have gotten pics of our little family with our camera, but that same little Prince decided he didn't want to sit still for the pictures with the fancy photographer's camera let alone mommy's camera.  

Here's to hoping that our picture turns out... { fingers crossed }

{ BONUS } We got to ride a choo-choo to see Santa, aka the Monorail.  The prince LOVED it!! 

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And finally getting to my projects...

I have a number of handmade gifts that I need to get done before Christmas, preferably, and I always end up leaving them for the last minute!  

Seriously!  Last year I was sewing the little seat cushions for the Prince's play table and chairs at 9:00pm on Christmas Eve!

So I guess to have started MOST of my projects for this year a whole week early, TODAY, means there's hope for me to get them done before Christmas Eve, right?!

Here's a peek at what I'm working on today...

A few sewing projects for gifts...

And a little something else I'm trying this year...  I can't tell you too much or I'll spoil the surprise for those receiving this gift.

What projects have you been working on?  And are you done yet?  { smile }

Have a wonderful end to your weekend!

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Holiday traditions, it wouldn't be the same without them.

We all have family traditions that MAKE the holiday season for us.  Whether it be baking cookies with family and friends, decorating the Christmas tree with grandparents { one of ours }, visiting the same Santa each year for pictures { ours, again }, using the same Advent calendar each year...  whatever it may be it's a tradition for you and your family and your holidays aren't the same without them.

That brings me to another holiday tradition that I've tried my darnedest to keep going in my family over the years...

The tradition started for me when I was a child, each Christmas my Grandma Kelly, may she rest in peace, would give ornaments to all of the grandchildren for their gifts.  And each year she went to Stanek's on the South Hill in Spokane to pick out those ornaments.  Eventually my brother and I got to go with her since Mom and/or Dad needed to drive her there...  we then got to help her find just the right ornament for everyone { even ourselves }

Grandma passed away in 1999 and I didn't immediately continue the tradition... it probably wasn't until 2003 that I finally started and then it was only with gifting ornaments to Mom, Dad and the hubby.
{ of course I also picked one out for myself, after all I am a lover of ornaments... thanks to Grandma }  

Once Carter was born I had a new motivation to go all-in with the tradition.  I now include Carter { obviously }, my brother and his girlfriend, and my mom-in-law.  Each year when we go to downtown Seattle for our Santa pictures we also make a stop at the Macy's Holiday store so that I can select the perfect ornament for everyone.   They have an amazing selection and the way they display everything reminds me of shopping at Stanek's with Grandma. { smile }

My LOVE for Christmas ornaments and the joy of decorating our tree each year is a result of Grandma's tradition, for that I am very grateful.

{ Not to mention that who wouldn't enjoy shopping for these beauties?! }

Photo courtesy of Pottery Barn.

Photo courtesy of Urban Outfitters.

Photo courtesy of Nordstrom.

The ornaments that I received from Grandma over the years are now little reminders of her love...  I wouldn't give them up for anything.  By continuing her tradition my hope is to remind my family of that love she had for us, along with letting my loved-ones know how much they mean to me.

What special traditions does your family have?  I'd love to hear about them { smile }

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