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5 christmas confessions ...

1 // besides our mistletoe treeskirt (which i love) and 6 days worth of cookies ... i have been completely unmotivated this holiday season. i've not made a single gift. there's no homemade wreath. you won't be receiving a clever christmas card this year. and when you visit this holiday season, you will not be munching on black olive penguins as adorable and ridiculous as they are:

when i was in hawaii visiting my sister, i asked her why she hadn't posted any pictures on facebook of her kiddos in their halloween costumes. she felt their costumes weren't anything special this year. w/ a 3 year old, a 13mo old and a husband on deployment - she was lucky to squeeze in a shower and a little mommy alone time @ the end of the day ... let alone time to create pinterest-worthy halloween costumes.

facebook and pinterest can really make you feel inadequate, eh? there are so many amazing ideas out there. i get it, sis.  i go through days/weeks feeling completely disappointed in myself for lacking creativity. not to mention time management. while i don't have kids, i have a full-time job and a husband and i have to remind myself daily that blogging is a hobby - and it's supposed to be fun!

my ultimate favorite blog reads are those that admit they are not perfect - the real moms with real homes and real jobs. for the record: my kitchen table is stacked w/ paperwork to be filed. we need to make a run to the recycling center or we will be cardboard boxed out of house and home. and i won't even start to explain my closets.

on the bright side - holiday starts tomorrow! i am thankful to have the 23rd through the 1st off. hooray. i made it through another year! forewarning: we are still proud to live in a home sans internet. a case of the mundays might be a bit quiet for the next 2 weeks. and if it is, see you in 2012!

2 // the tree looks amazing and i've wanted to snap a picture of it all week - but as mentioned, our apartment is a wreck! in addition to the filing + the recycling, there is a pile of presents that need to be wrapped - and the couch is covered w/ clean (luckily - folded) laundry.

on the bright side - tonight we have nothing to do besides a little gym time. then i am determined to straighten & snap a photo or two. have you seen this post on bokeh filters?

 diy bokeh filters, the friendly fox
 {source: the friendly fox}

3 // i totally botched wade's christmas present. we weren't going to buy each other gifts this year. instead we were going to buy a house (wouldn't that have been a fun surprise?). unfortunately/fortunately that fell through. so we decided to spend $30 on each other. wade has been wanting to take a drawing class + asked for a sketchbook. i thought it would be clever to buy him a book called let's make some great art. today while checking in on my order, i found that a) it wouldn't be delivered until mid-january and b) it's for children 8 and up. woops. order cancelled. now a quick lunch time shopping trip is in store.

on the bright side - for those that DO have children, let's make some great art looks like a super fun book. be sure to check it out.

4 // and he's not the only one i/we still need to buy for. i have found that dads are the ultimate hardest people to buy for in the world. do you agree? who's the hardest person to buy for on your list?

on the bright side - we aren't doing christmas w/ my side of the family until next weekend. best thing about delayed christmas? after christmas shopping! last year during our $10 christmas exchange, a major steal purchase of the first season of glee was a major hit. cha-ching. (fyi - neither of us has ever watched an episode.)

5 // as a grand finale ... i will not be finishing the final 6 days of gluten-free christmas. it's true. wade and i are over cookies! somebody get us a carrot.

on the bright side - though i'm frustrated w/ myself for setting a goal and not reaching it, my waist line will thank me later. the best thing about doing even 6 days is that i have learned so much more about gfree grains. and i'm thrilled to finally bake treats that taste normal or better. need more recipes? check out this little list of gfree treats i've pinned:

thankfully ... in the end - none of the hustle and bustle of the season really matters. my husband loves me besides the fact that our apartment is mostly my mess. our dads will continue to love us even if they each get another tie. we have shelter even if it isn't trimmed w/ magnolia leaves @ $10 a foot. and we have the true meaning of christmas - a Savior. 

his law is love and his gospel is peace. 
may your holiday be filled w/ both.

on the 6th day of g-free christmas ...

we've made it to the halfway point! hoorah! wade reminded me last night that the actual 12 days of christmas doesn't begin until AFTER christmas. while  i am determined to finish what i've started ... 30lb weight gain and all (okay slight exaggeration), i might have to take advantage of an extended deadline to januray 5th. we'll see.

so what have we enjoyed thus far? here's the recap:

today day 6 - a recipe for the coffee lover in your life: red + green biscotti

1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 3/4 cup brown rice flour
3/4 cup potato starch
1/4 cup tapioca flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
4 Tbsp unsalted butter @ room temp
1 cup sugar + a little more for sprinkling
4 large eggs
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup unsalted chopped pistachios

1 // to prepare ... preheat oven to 375º and line a baking sheet w/ parchment paper. place your cranberries in a small bowl of boiling water and let sit until ready to use. sift together your flours and xanthum gum along w/ baking powder and salt and set aside.

2 // w/ electric mixer, cream sugar and butter on medium until fluffy. add 3 of the eggs - mixing between each addition. add the vanilla. then, lower the speed and add the flour mix. drain your cranberries & add them to the mix along w/ the pistachios.

3 // on a lightly floured surface, divide the dough in half. roll each half into a long thing log (approximately the length of your baking sheet and 2 inches wide). transfer to your prepared baking sheet and flatten a bit with the palm of your hand.

4 // in a small bowl, lightly beat the extra egg. brush beaten egg over the surface of each of your dough logs and sprinkle w/ sugar.

5 // bake for 25 minutes rotating the cookie sheet halfway through. remove the logs from the oven and reduce the oven temperature to 300º.

6 // once the logs have cooled, transfer to a cutting board and cut the logs into 1/2" thick slices. arrange them on a cookie sheet and bake for an additional 15 minutes. remove them from the oven, flip each piece and return to the oven for 15 more minutes. remove pan from oven and let cool.


on the 5th day of g-free christmas ...

okay before i get to today's treat, a little story w/ 1 more reason i love my husband.

tuesday night was our bible study christmas party. i already mentioned my airhead moment yesterday ... but there were lots and lots of laughs that night. wade and i missed last week so monday night we were informed that we needed to grab a couple of "dirty santa" gifts for tuesday night. the email gave a price limit of $10 so i assumed it was just a $10 gift exchange not gag gifts. and i assumed correctly. however - not everyone was so lucky? enter poor new(er) gal. after the first gift was opened ... you could see the horror on her face. "you mean we aren't doing gag gifts?" she then proclaimed "no one pick the container store bag". when it came wade's time to choose, you guessed it - he went straight for her bag. so we brought home one windup squeaking dolphin and ...

the cutest measuring cups EVER:


and who woulda thought these little lovelies would come in perfectly handy w/in the week. enter today's recipe + a "pinch" of salt.

day 5: {surprise} chocolate snowballs:

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup unsalted butter @ room temperature
2 1/3 cups brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/3 cup milk
1 1/4 cup sorghum flour
3/4 cup tapioca flour
3/4 cup brown rice flour
1 tsp xanthan gum
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp cinnamon
2/3 cup chopped pecans (optional but delicious)
powdered sugar
1 bag of hershey's kisses (unwrapped)

day 1:

1 // to prepare - sift together the sorghum flour, tapioca flour, brown rice flour, xanthan gum, cocoa, baking powder, cinnamon and a "pinch" of salt (yay mini measuring cups) and set aside. melt the chocolate chips carefully over low heat and set aside.

2 // w/ your electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar @ medium speed until light and fluffy (approx 2 minutes). add the eggs mixing in between. add the vanilla, the melted chocolate and the milk. lower the mixer speed and add in the flour mixture. hand mix in the chopped pecans. cover and chill overnight.

day 2:

1 // to prepare  - preheat oven to 355º. lightly grease 2 baking sheets w/ extra butter and set aside. place a little powdered sugar on a plate or a shallow bowl.

2 // shape dough into heaped teaspoon balls (approx 3/4"). flatten each ball and place a hersheys kiss on top. wrap the dough around the kiss and roll into a ball again. then roll the ball lightly in the powdered sugar.

3 // place powdered sugared balls on the cookie sheets 2" apart. bake approx 12 minutes until lightly browned. leave to cool.

... then enjoy! these have been my favorites so far!!! yum. and sorghum flour and dark chocolate are both high in antioxidants so i like to think i'm being "healthy". ha.

thurs-DIY: west elm inspired tree skirt (part 2)

okay before i start this post ... confession: i'm not always the brightest bulb on the christmas tree. tuesday night at bible study, i referred to the 3 kings as "the 3 kings of orientar". *enter roaring laughter* apparently the lyric is actually "we 3 kings of orient are ... bearing gifts we traverse afar" (no need to mention here that i thought it was "we traveled so far"). 

so occasionally i make slight airhead moves. the point - i did it again. thankfully my husband put me in my place educated me:
{l} mistletoe (note: white berries)
{r} - holly (note: red berries)

okay so by changing my leaf shape - my tree skirt is no longer botanically correct. (yes that's a word!) i decided to stick w/ white berries anyways. and i'm glad i did. 

so here we go: west elm inspired tree skirt (part 2)

1 finished tree skirt (part 1)
2 0.3oz packages of natural wool roving 
dish or hand soap
1 bowl of hot water
1 bowl of cold water
thread to match your tree skirt and a needle

first things first ... a little lesson in making felt balls! there are lots of approaches just a google away. the 2 most common:

 {l} felt balls made w/ the panty hose washing machine method
{r} felt balls made by rolling
i prefer the felt balls on the right. a much more dense ball and the perfect berry. so here's a quick little lesson on rolling:

1 // tear off 2 equal sized pieces of your wool roving leaving ragged ends. (i used clover brand roving that i picked up @ joann fabric. i split the original strand into 6 thinner strands. and then tore them into 4" long pieces.) your wool ball will shrink a bit during the felting process.

2 // tease the roving to spread each piece. then crisscross your pieces before gathering them into a ball. gently roll in your hands.

3 // place the small ball in the palm of your hand and add a drop of soap to your hand and to the ball. continue to gently shape the wool into a ball.

4 // gently roll the ball between your palms. at this point, do not add too much pressure - this will throw your ball off center. as you continue to roll, alternate between dipping the ball in cold and hot water. felting is caused by heat and agitation. the changing temperature "felts" the fibers. also apply more pressure as the ball becomes denser and firmer to touch.

ta da ... felt ball! approximately 20-30 more to go! (i told wade that if we had a window peeper, he/she would have thought i had the worst case of ocd hand washing EVER.) let your felt balls dry completely. then we're ready to finish the tree skirt!

the finishing touches:

1 // decide how consistent you would like your berries to be. the west elm tree skirt was filled w/ berries. i decided to use quite a few less. not only bc my fingers were pruned and i was out of wool roving, but also bc i preferred the more scarce look.

2 // sew your berries on as though sewing a button.  a little cheat sheet from park & bond below to make an X stitch. after making 4 stitches, pull the string tight and knot securely on the wrong side of the skirt.

{source: park & bond}


{PINspiration}                                                     {PINspired}
{source: west elm + me}

not gonna lie ... i love it.

wednes-DIY: west elm inspired tree skirt (part 1)

hello lovelies! it has been WAY TOO LONG since i've done a diy. i know. i apologize. and i have 2 excuses:

1 // we've been budgeting! a good thing - we have savings! a bad thing - i have limited diy money (or money in general).
2 // we've run out of space. okay not true. as you all are probably just like me and your home is constantly a work in progress. but w/ a 500 square foot apartment - i have free ceiling space and that's about it! ;)

but i'm back! and i love this little project.

while at the design*sponge book signing at west elm a few weeks back, ryan and i were totally impressed w/ all of west elm's homemade inspired christmas decorations. i was especially smitten w/ their felt mistletoe tree skirt:

Felt Mistletoe Tree Skirt
{source: west elm}

adorable, right? and not bad @ $70. but if you're a clearance shopper like me and waiting for after christmas discounts, you're out of luck! this cutie is "out of stock".

just in time - here's (part 1) to make your own felt mistletoe tree skirt:

3 yards + 1 foot of 20% wool felt @ 36" wide (purchased from joann w/ 50% coupon) 
yarn to match
sewing machine, scissors, measuring tape

to make the basic tree skirt:
1 // cut your felt into two 24 1/2 inch x 48 inch pieces of felt.
2 // place the two 24.5" x 48" pieces of felt right sides together and pin 1/2" seam on of the 48" sides. this will create a 48" square.

3 // fold the square into quarters (left). then fold again to form a triangle with the folded center at point (right). measure 24" from the folded center point around the unfolded side of the triangle and cut. then cut a similar circle about 4" from the center point (making your center hole).
4 // the final step to finish the basic tree skirt. sew the 1/2" seam you had pinned in step 2. from rounded outside edge to the center hole this will be 24". be sure to back stitch at the beginning and end. remove the pins from the other 24" half. 

the finished product:
time to embellish! 

1 // this part is incredibly repetitive. so watch a movie and get 'er done. double up the excess fabric and cut out your "leaves". you can stick with a shape similar to the west elm mistletoe or i opted for a bit more literal holly leaf. i needed just over 100 pairs of leaves. this will depend on the size and shape you settle on.

why double up? to attach the leaves to the tree skirt we'll sew a midrib on each leaf. i preferred the thickness and texture of the doubled up leaves.

2 // it's decision time once again. decide how you want your leaves to lay.  similar to the west elm tree skirt, i decided to make my leaves head in every direction. but you could be more planned and do a pattern. it's completely up to you.

3 // starting at one of your open ends of the skit on the right side (aka the side w/ the seam not exposing the extra 1/2" fabric), begin to attach your leaves in pairs. attach them by creating a midrib - a simple straight stitch down the center of your leaf. again be sure to back stitch at the beginning and end so that your stitch doesn't fall out. give yourself enough give in the thread to continue to the next leaf w/o cutting (see my loose threads below). this task may appear tedious but once you get in the hang of it, it goes rather fast.

100 or so pairs of leaves later ... and you have a lovely mono-tone tree skirt:

come back tomorrow and we'll add our berries ... (part 2) a little lesson on felting + the finished product!
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