Friday, December 31, 2010

The End of the Year

I've been reading all of my favorite blogs end-of-the-year posts, and most of them bring tears to my eyes. Some are a joyful recap of a year of blessing and some tell of blessing found in struggle. It is true that life is not always easy, that often times we find ourselves in the most uncomfortable of places feeling as if we don't have what it takes to make it through. So when I read the stories told by others who have found a way and can now say: I made it through...I am stronger...I have joy, I cry. Partly because struggle is so familiar, but mostly because I understand the joy.

Last year, the seemingly insurmountable struggle of joblessness and ownership of a house across the country, that we didn't even live in clouded our view of EVERYTHING. But God, in his wisdom and ability to see EVERYTHING clearly, gave us the gift of joy: Sophia Jewel. Suddenly the financial struggles that had clouded of vision were swept away and replaced with tender moments of absolute clarity: tiny toes, soft little palms and squinty eyes we waited expectantly to open. The beautiful miracle of our baby girl, that was the joy we needed to get through. 

For my husband, Mark and I 2010 has been a year of JOY, in spite of struggles that continue to swirl around us. We're looking forward to 2011, hoping that the storm that seems to have raged in our lives the past few years will dissipate, revealing a little more sunshine. 

 Joy in the form of a little strawberry-clad wonder.
Love those slobbery kisses.
My husband and our little joy-bug.

As for my Mom and I, we're scheming up some great new things for Bumblebee and Sophie. Our joint effort continues to be a source of joy, bringing us together as mother and daughter, but more importantly as friends. And my little "joy-bug," Sophia continues to be our inspiration, a source of sloppy kisses, amusement and JOY.

Wishing you blessings in 2011!


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Cookie Bliss

We started a new tradition last year: on the Wednesday before Christmas we all (my sisters, my daughter Sophia and I) all gather at my mom's (Cindy's) house for a day of cookie baking and decorating. It's a tradition that is a bit of a continuation of how it was when we were little and all still living at home. Now we thoroughly enjoy an excuse to get together.
Last year we had plenty of snow on the ground and all though we don't have any yet, there were flurries in the air. With that, my "Holiday" playlist and all the sprinkles we were tossing around it was perfectly festive!
 Here are my beautiful sisters: Alissa on the left (she's the one getting married in February!) and Rachel on the right (she's going to be in Madrid, Spain for Christmas...lucky little duck).
And here's Me and Sophia.
(Grandma was behind the camera the whole time.)

The last two years I have used the "Day of Baking" as an opportunity to tryout new cookie recipes. Last year I debut a delicious recipe for Cranberry Orange Cookies--they were AMAZING, so I had to make them again. My new recipe for this year was this Chocolate Chunk and Orange Biscotti which I modified from Mary Ann Esposito recipe for Chocolate-Pistachio Biscotti; I eliminated the pistachios, added chunks of chocolate and orange zest and drizzled the same icing from the cookies on top. Both recipes call for orange juice and zest, which for some reason I absolutely LOVE in holiday cookies. 

Chocolate Chunk and Orange Biscotti
Cranberry and Orange Cookies

Along with the cookie experiments we also make traditional sugar cookies and Ohio Buckeyes. YUM! We do some serious decorating. Check out the concentration:

 And the finished product ( I love the lobster!)

Now we just have to eat them! Holiday traditions are the BEST!


Monday, December 20, 2010

Stocking Substitute

As the all four of my kids have grown up, gotten married and moved on they have all taken their Christmas stockings with them.  Leaving me with not just an empty nest, but an empty mantel and the questions: what do I do with their stocking stuffer presents when they are all home for Christmas???

It's a week before Christmas and I can't make 7 stockings...besides they all have stockings at their own homes.  I thought of little boxes, but couldn't find the right size. I found some cute tins, but they were more than I wanted to spend.  Here is what I came up with after wandering around Michaels:

Some stickers and tags; each couple will have a theme

Some handle bags

decorative tape

a finished Christmas bag "stocking"

The mantle full and the "stockings"ready to be filled, now I better finish my shopping and get to the wrapping!

Merry Christmas everyone!

<Sumo Sweet Stuff
Its So Very Cheri

The Girl Creative

Friday, December 17, 2010


One of Sophia's birthday (click here to see her penguin-themed party) gifts was this adorable name-plate, handmade by our friend Heidi. Not only is it a gift that Sophia won't grow out of (she got 7 pairs of pajamas!), but it also compliments the colors in her bedding (the bedding that inspired this whole endeavor a year ago). 
Such a great personalized gift!

SO cute!

And here's the inspirational bedding:

What a great gift idea! Thanks Heidi! What creative things have you done with scrabble letters?


Tidy Mom I'm Lovin It Fridays
The Girl Creative

Thursday, December 16, 2010

It's a Penguin Party

This Sunday we celebrated Sophia's birthday with a little Penguin themed party. It all started with a little plush penguin, then I found these great napkins at Target and the tin my mom already had. That got my wheels turning and I decided I'd attempt to make an igloo cake. 
Cute little penguins.

To make the cake I used two box cake mixes and store-bought frosting. For the dome-mold I used a pyrex, oven-safe glass bowl (Martha Stewart makes an Igloo cake mold, which costs $59.99, I bought the pyrex bowl at a local kitchen store for $2.39). I put about 3/4 of the mix in the bowl and bake it at 350 for almost an hour.Then I put the rest of the mix into my muffin pan to make cupcakes (and baked them at the recommended time).
 Once the cake had cooled I place it on a tray and then I cut the tops of two cupcakes and cut the cupcakes in half, so I had four half circles. These were for the doorway. To form the doorway I put a little frosting on the tray as "glue" then stacked the half circles two high and two deep. Then I covered the whole thing in white frosting. I used blue frosting to make two little ponds (I should have used gel frosting for a more realistic look, but I didn't have it. Next time.). Around the igloo is placed "Frosty and Friends" ornaments (there was no way I was making fondant penguins!). Here's how it all came out:

Putting the finishing touches on the cake while Sophia looks on.

The birthday girl chatting up with guests.

A little apprehensive at all the attention, and the giant igloo coming towards her.

Time to blow out the candle.
 First taste.

 Digging in.
This is the "ice cream is COLD!" face.
Daddy went in for a closer look and got a little frosting slap on the cheek.
Diving in to the presents.
Loving the baby doll. (Notice the little penguin on her shirt and there are penguins on her socks too:-)
But loving the puppet even more.
Big kisses for the puppet.

Overall it was a success and so much fun! A year sure went by fast.


Get your craft on Thurs.