Molten.Lava.Cake. Make it now!

We had such a great time a few weeks ago when our family came over for dinner.  It was sibling dinner night and I made these really cute napkins out of dishtowels.

It had been so cold the week of our dinner, and I wanted something warm and cozy!  We made spicy tacos and quesadillas for dinner. Yum.

When it came to dessert, we needed something equally warm and cozy.  Molten lava cake was an obvious choice.  You can find the original recipe for Gooey Chocolate Pudding Cakes at Better Homes and Gardens.

The title is right. It’s so, so, soooooo deliciously gooey and chocolatey.  I call it Molten Lava Cake though because it so, so, soooooo hot and bubbly and oozey when you take the first bite.  Just like hot lava.

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I prepare the batter before dinner.  Then, I measure out the cocoa and water into the bowl I used for the batter.  I fill a pot with water and put it to the side during dinner.  When everyone is finishing their dinner, I boil the water, and follow the last steps of the recipe.  This gets the cake ready just as people are done with dinner and ready for dessert.  And, it keeps the cake warm.  Which is exactly what you want!

The original recipe typically uses ramekins.  If you want to do individual desserts, the individual ramekins are perfect.  I baked them this way for a girls night, and they were a huge hit!

Tonight though I wanted something very informal yet decadent.  And, I didn’t want to restrict anyone’s chocolate intake.  So I baked the cake in a 2.5 quart pan. That way you can just scoop as much as you want! No judgment here.

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My dad has a rule that the dessert and ice cream should “run out” at the same time.  He is so wise.  So, if you finish your cake and still have some ice cream in your bowl, you must go back and get another scoop of cake.  There’s really no other way.

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For six people, I made two recipes of the cake.  One cake is too small for that size crowd, but two is a little large.  I’d always rather have food leftover than have people leave hungry.  We had about two large servings left over, and I thoroughly enjoyed some of that the next day when I watched Downton Abbey.

I hope you make this soon.  It is so, so, soooooo good!

Dishtowels to Napkins

Is it cold at your house?  It has been freezing here.  Literally, freezing.  I’ll be honest- I’m sick of it.  It has been rainy and gloomy, and trying to keep up with my running has been brutal.

We hosted dinner last night for our brothers and sisters.  We had a great time talking and playing games.  When we were planning the menu I knew I wanted something warm and spicy. Because I am that tired of cold weather. Tacos and quesadillas were an obvious choice for dinner.  And, molten lava cake was equally obvious for dessert.

For the table setting, I knew I wanted something rustic and warm and not too fussy.  I stumbled upon these dishtowels at TJ Maxx a few days ago.  They’re rustic and warm, but they’re dish towels.  How was I going to incorporate that into our table setting?

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Surely, I thought, I could make these into napkins.  I did a little research and found this tutorial on turning cloth dishtowels into napkins.  The author is totally right.  This is so easy, and if you already sew you could probably figure this out on your own. But, if you’re like me and rarely sew and don’t have the time to figure this out on your own, I’ve included some directions you can use for now.

To start, you’ll need a dishtowel, needles, an iron, ruler, coordinating thread, and a sewing machine.  If you don’t have a sewing machine, you could easily use adhesive hem tape. There’s no judgment in that.

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Lay the dishtowel flat and find the center.  There’s usually a good crease in the center from being folded.

If your crease is not in the center, fold the towel in half to find the true center.  Then, rake your thumb nail over the length of the fold.  This technique, called finger pressing, keeps you from using the iron when you don’t have to use it.  It practically irons the napkin and makes a very strong crease in the middle.

I’ve marked the crease for you with a needle.

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Cut the towel into two halves along the center crease.

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Y’all, I seriously loved this pattern and that fringe.  It’s like a Turkish bath towel, but for dishes!

Now, that you’ve got two halves, you can start creating the hem.  I used the ruler and measured the existing hem of the napkin.  I didn’t want a tiny hem on two sides and a huge hem on the other.  My hem was half an inch.

I folded over the raw edge a quarter of an inch and pinned it down.

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Then, I folded it another quarter of an inch to make a half inch hem. I removed the pins from the first fold and used them to hold the second fold.

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You certainly don’t have to pin the edge.  Once you get the hang of this, pinning will probably feel like overkill.  But it helps me show you what I did and  it helped me have a nice, clean hem.  If you prefer, you can only pin the second fold.

Once your hem is folded, iron the hem down. Then, sew the hem in a straight line using thread of a coordinating color.

And, voila!  You’ll have a stack of beautiful napkins!

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It took me a little over an hour to make six napkins.  Full disclosure, that time does not include time spent unraveling the massive knot I made in the bobbin of thread. Just being honest.

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I really love these napkins, and there’s lots of ways you can use them in your table setting.

On top of your plate.

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As part of a buffet.

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Or even as a placemat!

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I took a pretty straightforward approach with our table setting last night.

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I wanted everything to feel warm.  Did I tell you that I’m sick of the cold weather? Sick of it. Instead of flowers, I used candles for a little added warmth.

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The whole table was so inviting and warm!

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We had a great dinner and enjoyed our time together!  A good time was had by all!

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I hope you’ve enjoyed your weekend!

Later, I’ll share the recipe we used for the molten lava cake!  You’re definitely going to want to  come back for that.

Brothers and Sisters

Brothers and sisters. I’ve always wanted them.  Thankfully, I came from a really big family with lots of cousins around. I never felt lonely, but I’ve always wanted my very own brothers and sisters.

Don’t get me wrong, being an only child definitely has its perks!  I am so thankful for the relationship I have with my parents. In our family photos, it’s just us! Which is pretty great.

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My husband, on the other hand, is one of four.  One of four loud, opinionated, amazing children.  Their family photos look a little different from mine.  Take a look at these guys! Seriously stylin’.

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They are funny and kind and sarcastic and honest and totally family oriented.  When I met them, the jokes immediately began, and I knew I was in! They treat me like one of the group, and I love calling them my brothers and sister.

We’ve had lots of fun, but that’s another story for another day.  What you need to know now, is that tomorrow night is sibling dinner and game night!

I love it when our house is loud and full, and when they come over it feels like the house expands.  Like the walls have to bow out a little to fit all of their personalities in one place.

We’re going to make tacos, eat lots of chocolate, and if I play my cards right, I may be able to talk them into Scattergories!

I can’t wait to show you how we set the table for the big night!  It has been so cold here, and I’m sick of it.  I want our table to use warm colors and feel cozy. Spicy tacos.  Warm table setting.  You can’t beat that.

I’m also going to share some of the recipes that we’ll use.  I hope you’ll come back for some of the recipes!  Like lava cake.  You’re going to want to come back for lava cake.

What is your favorite thing to do with your siblings?

Experiments in Canning

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This year, when my mom asked me what I wanted for Christmas, I immediately said “canning supplies”.  My mom didn’t bat an eye.  She’s no stranger to her daughter wanting kitchen equipment.  We’ve had this conversation before.  A few Christmases ago, just before I got married, she asked if I wanted a piece of jewelry to wear in our wedding or a Kitchen Aid mixer.  Kitchen Aid mixer.  Hands down, I wanted the Kitchen Aid mixer.

Just before Thanksgiving, I had my first entry into canning. I wanted to make apple butter for my neighbors, and my sweet friend graciously taught me everything she knows about canning.  Which is a lot!

I came home with the cutest and tastiest jars of apple butter and was hooked.  There’s something empowering about making and preserving food.

This year, my parents gifted me with the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving.  Complete is an understatement.  This is part science text book, part cookbook, and I’m really enjoying reading through it!

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They also gave me all the tools I’ll need! This is the Presto 7 piece canning set.  I didn’t need all of the pieces, but I love having the magnetized lid lifter and the wide mouth jar lifter.

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And finally, this gem of a book!  It has great detail about the canning process, but what I love about it is the recipes!  They all look beautiful and unique! I love that they’re divided by the season so you can quickly find something to make right now.

Canning for a new generation

This weekend, we had nothing but rain and cold weather.  It was gloomy and cold and pretty unpleasant.  I quickly grabbed Canning for a New Generation and flipped to the Winter portion of the book.  And there it was.  Right in front of me.  A sunny jar of orange marmalade.

I gathered all of the citrus needed to make the marmalade, and immediately felt better!  It was so sunny on such a dreary day.

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I scrubbed the jars, and read and re-read the recipe!

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It was so fun to try something new, and the process was much less complicated than I had made it in my mind.  I’ll be honest though, I burned the orange marmalade.  The tricky thing for me was getting the marmalade ready at the same time as the jars.  I turned my back for just a second, and the marmalade became more of a candy than a spread.  It smelled delicious though, and I am convinced it will be delicious in orange rolls (when I don’t burn it)!

I canned just a few jars to see how the process would go.  I was pretty skeptical, and did not feel confident in my canning at all.  But, then I heard it.  The pop.  The sweet sound signifying that the jars were sealed and properly preserved. I felt a small victory!

And, again I’m hooked! I’ll follow a friend’s advice- I’ll clean out my jars and try again.

Garden Club

Mim was the secretary of our local garden club.  I’m not sure what they did, but I do know that they had lunch each month.  Some of those months, I was fortunate enough to be “sick” and wasn’t able to go to school.   Off to Mim’s I’d go, and I’d watch in the kitchen while she polished silver and whipped caramel into a frenzy of frosting for cake.  “The fork goes here” she’d say, and then she’d send me into the dining room to set the table.  She’d go about her morning baking yeast rolls, checking on her congealed salad, and making flower arrangements from the flowers in her garden.

When the ladies arrived, the whole house filled with this amazing energy.  These women wore pearls and dresses, and talked about lovely things like their gardens or family recipes. Thankfully, I was always  miraculously healed just in time for the club meeting, and could watch all of this unfold.

Mim began each meeting by reading the minutes in her slow, Southern drawl. She read about things like the church floral arrangements and roses. Then, she would take to writing the notes in deliberate, scrolling cursive. She was the keeper of the garden club thoughts until the next meeting.

After each meeting, several of the women would not so stealthily sneak off to “steal” a cutting from my grandmother’s roses.  They said that to grow beautiful roses from a  cutting you had to steal the rose from someone else’s garden. If you asked to take the cutting, it would never grow.  Mim would politely turn her back to her roses and say goodbye to the other ladies while a group of them giggled and took snips of her roses.

Back inside, Mim and I would clear the table, washing each of her dishes by hand and returning them to the china cabinet.  We’d wrap the leftovers and wait for my mom to come home from work to eat leftovers with us and tell her all about the meeting.

Since moving from Dayton, I’ve had a strong desire to garden.  To grow something from the dirt.  To get my hands dirty and to grow something nourishing and beautiful. I started with a small plot in our back yard for vegetables. I’ve cherished having fresh herbs, fruits, and vegetables. We’ve made salsas, eaten lots of salads, and we split the few strawberries we saved from the rabbits. Each time I look at my front yard though, I realize it needs a little something.  A little softness and a little color.

I joined our local garden club to learn more about, you guessed it- gardening.  I don’t feel intimidated by vegetables, but flowers are a different story.  I’ve been a member since June, and I am learning so much-about flowers and life- from these women.  I can say, “I have a question about crepe myrtles, roses, plotting out my yard, whatever” and someone is certain to know the answer.

Our president came to my home a few weeks ago to walk around our yard pointing out what needs to be pruned or removed and how. Then, she helped me plot out new landscaping and left me with stacks of books to pick out flowers.  Nothing beats a gloomy day like looking at landscaping and gardening books!

I’m still deciding what I want in my front yard, but I am certain there will be roses.  Mim had shrub roses that looked wild and unruly and perfect! I know that I want something similar in my garden, and my new obsession is the Gartendirektor Otto Linne- which I learned about at a garden club meeting! It’s a shrub rose, and absolutely beautiful!  You should totally head over to Tuscan Rose or Hartwood Roses.  They both have beautiful photos of my new favorite rose, and lots more!

This month, we didn’t have a club meeting.  Instead, we met for lunch.  We ate lots of girly food, drank Mint Julep tea, and talked about new brunch places opening near our houses.  They answered all my questions, and always make me feel like a welcome member of the group. I feel so connected to Mim at each meeting, and I am so looking forward to starting my own garden. I’ll be sure to keep you updated and share lots of pictures!

Christams Eve Eve and Comfort Food

Oh, Christmas.  It’s such a sweet season, and to know this season is over does make me a little sad.  I love to soak up every minute I can with my family.  One way I get in a little extra time with them is to have a Christmas Eve Eve dinner at our home.  This is perfect because it lets us have more time together, and helps our family to keep the tradition of having a party on Christams Eve Eve.

We’ve been hosting our Christmas Eve Eve party for the last four years, and it gets better each year!  This year was truly special.  We served Bacon Swiss dip, beef tenderloin with horseradish dijon sauce, Julia Child’s stuffed mushrooms, Cheddar Garlic Stuffed Potatoes, green bean bundles, and dinner rolls covered in garlic and rosemary.

Each year I try something new. For the past few years, I’ve been on the search for a good horseradish sauce.  I’ve tried lots, and this year’s horseradish Dijon sauce was by far my favorite!  It has the right amount of horseradish (okay, I may have added an extra tablespoon), and I loved adding chopped green onions. While I love trying new things, I’m just not ready to change some parts of our dinner- beef tenderloin, cheddar garlic stuffed potatoes, and the Bacon Swiss Dip just haven’t been changed in the last four years.

This Bacon Swiss dip is so good- warm and bubbly and filled with bacon and cheese.  What could be better? My cousin introduced us to this dip at our several years ago at Thanksgiving, and I’ve been making it ever since.  It’s such a crowd pleaser that I always double the recipe. I’ll also admit that I add a lot more bacon.  No judgment, right?

Here’s how I make it (This recipe is already doubled the original recipe):

2 (8 oz.) packages cream cheese at room temperature

1 c. mayonnaise

2 c. grated Swiss cheese

6 T. chopped green onions

1 package bacon, cooked and crumbled (Reserve 6 slices of bacon for topping)

1 c. crushed Ritz crackers

Beat cream cheese in a mixing bowl to soften. Add mayonnaise, Swiss cheese and green onions; mix well. Stir in bacon, reserving approximately 6 slices for the topping.  Transfer cheese and bacon mixture to a baking dish. 8 x dish works best. Crumble remaining bacon and top the dip with bacon and Ritz crackers. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes or until bubbly. Cover with foil, if needed while baking. Serves 10.

While I love a good, special dinner  like Christmas Eve Eve, every now and then you need something familiar.  Something warm and comforting.  Today is one of those days.  The leftovers from Christmas Eve Eve are gone, it’s cold and rainy, and we’re glued to the t.v. watching football.

I also needed to cook something that reminded me of home. Earlier today, my cousin sent me a picture of these camellias from my parents’ garden.  It was a bitter sweet moment- being so excited that our family is home and enjoying their time in Dayton, but a little sad knowing that I won’t see them today.

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All of these things pointed to this- we NEEDED comfort food!

In honor of the New Year, I made collard greens. I don’t really think collard greens will bring us any financial fortune next year, but I do love thinking about Mim and my family when I make them.  This year, I used Paula Deen’s recipe.  It’s definitely one of my favorites because it’s a little spicy and the collards don’t get cooked to death.  If you don’t like spicy foods, you could easily cut down the amount of Tabasco sauce or leave it out all together.  You get lots of flavor from the ham hock, seasoned salt, and house seasoning so you won’t miss the Tabasco sauce.

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Earlier today, my husband opened the fridge and asked why we had a ham hock.  Bless his heart, he just doesn’t understand.  Since that moment, I’ve resolved to make more soul food this year. Of course, I’ve got the usual resolutions too, but to know that my own husband didn’t have any idea what to do with a ham hock just won’t do.

I also made a giant pot of The Pioneer Woman’s Sunday Night Stew.  I know, I know, it’s not Sunday night, but it kinda feels like it so surely that counts.

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It is meaty and rich, and best when served over smashed potatoes!

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We have loved being home tonight, and it was even better with this comfort food.  2015 is off to a great start, and I’m excited to see what this year has in store!

I hope your New Year is off to a wonderful start! What are some comfort foods your family will be making this year?

Christmas Recap

Hi Friend!

I’m so glad you are here today, and so glad we can catch up!  Was your Christmas as crazy busy and fun as mine was? Oh, I hope it was!

As you know, the weeks before Christmas at our house were spent decorating and planning.  I’m sure your holidays went similarly! There’s so much I want to tell you!

You already know that I repaired our precious snowman ornament wreath.  I’ve embraced the colored lights outside, and added a little whimsy to the door.

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I updated our mantle using candy red and green touches.

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This really played up the whimsical colors outside and the colors of our living room.

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I loved these poinsettias!

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We hung our stockings by the chimney with care.

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I am so thankful to have such a crafty mother in law who made this stocking for me when I joined the family. Look at that detail!

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We chose a beautiful tree. Granted, it wasn’t from the cute tree lot, but it was a pretty great tree! Then we decorated it, of course! Our tree is a family tree.  There’s no theme, no rhyme or reason, just ornaments we’ve collected or been given throughout our lives.  They range from my husband’s childhood ornaments to ornaments we’ve accumulated on our travels! I was so excited to add our ornament from Neuschweinstein in Germany this year!

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All of this was really leading up to Christmas Eve Eve.  Every family celebrates Christmas Eve Eve, right? If you’re not celebrating it now, you should pencil it in for next year!

Back in Dayton, we attended a Christmas Eve Eve party with family friends each year.  Spending Christmas in Huntsville means that we miss the Christmas Eve Eve party each year. The only solution is to host our own Christmas Eve Eve party for our family!

Remember, the Christmas on the River table setting? It was very rustic and the food, served family style, was the focus of the table. We drew out the rustic elements of the china.

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I used the same china for our Christmas Eve Eve party, but wanted the table setting to reflect the party in Dayton.  The party in Dayton is truly Southern and simple, and I wanted to see that reflected in neutrals and natural elements.

I made centerpieces the night before the party.

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I’ll be the first to admit that I probably don’t give carnations the respect they deserve. When I think about carnations, I immediately think of grocery store flowers that have been forcibly died an unnatural shade of blue or pink, and I usually avoid them at all costs.  But something about these with green berries and cedar was just what I wanted for the table.  Touché, carnations.  I’ll give you a second look next time.

I used a burlap runner for the center of the table, then layered this with wood grain placemats, golden chargers, and our dinner plate. Same china, different way.

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I added smilax, magnolia, the centerpieces and mercury glass candle holders to the center of the table.  I’m so thankful I have parents that will drive all over our land finding smilax and walk between several magnolia trees just to find the right shaped leaf.

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You’ll notice that I almost always use low centerpieces.  When you’re right at 5 feet tall, you learn that seeing people across the table is important but sometimes difficult.  When there’s a huge (probably beautiful) centerpiece in the middle of the way, it’s pretty impossible to see across the table.

With, that our table was set!

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We did have to turn our tale to be able to fit everyone in the dining room.  It may not be the best design, but I think it’s a pretty great problem to have.  I’d gladly rearrange my dining room to be able to have all of my family comfortably around the table.

I’d love to hear about your Christmas decorations! I’m sure they were lovely.

I hope I’ll see you again soon! I can’t wait to tell you more about our Christmas Eve Eve dinner! I can’t begin to describe how delicious it was.

Tinsel and Tacos

I am so excited about hosting my parents for Christmas, and our Christmas Eve Eve dinner is one of my favorite traditions! There will be lots more to share about Christmas Eve Eve dinner soon!

Our Christmas season has been pretty busy, as I’m sure yours has been too. Tonight we stayed in to work on a few final decorations. Our family’s decorations have to be a combination of whimsical and rustic elements.This year, I focused on color using candy reds and bright greens.

I started with this simple berry wreath from Target.

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Added some candle sticks from Target and Home Goods

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Then filled in the space with greenery and these huge poinsettias I found at Hobby Lobby. I added some green floral picks I also found at Hobby Lobby to add a little length and more green.

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Together, the whole mantle looks like this

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Our stockings are now hung by the chimney with care. And floral wire. And electrical tape. And nails.  But mainly with care.

When things get busy around our house, we get tacos. This little tradition started when Dan and I were planning our wedding. We quickly realized there were lots of things to do and errands to run. When things got too crazy we would take a taco break at one of our favorite Mexican restaurants. This tradition has continued, and any time things get a little overwhelming we get a taco.

In the busyness of Christmas it’s no surprise that we’re taking taco breaks this season. I love to go out, but sometimes you just need to recreate that taco break at home.

Taco night is one of my favorite nights at home!  It is super easy, fast, and bonus- it doesn’t get too many dishes dirty.

This recipe can easily be modified to fit your taste.  The “secret” ingredient is the can of Rotel.  It’s a game changer.

To make the taco meat, brown 1.5 lbs ground beef with:

1/2 chopped onion

1 tbsp. garlic powder

1 tbs. cumin

1/2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. pepper

1/4 tsp. chili powder

When the meat is cooked through, drain and return to the skillet.

Add to the skillet:

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tbsp. cumin

1/2 tbsp. garlic

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 can mild Rotel

Let this simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Don’t be surprised if you hear more about tacos! We’ll be having our small group over on Monday to say Feliz Navidad, and I’m already dreaming about a Cinco de Mayo fiesta!

I hope you are enjoying this holiday season!  If things are getting too busy, you should probably take a taco break.

I am so looking forward to sharing more about our family’s holiday traditions! I hope you’ll stop by Mim and Olive later this week to hear more!

Ornament Wreath

IMAG0453I’ll be the first to admit that I struggle with finding my family’s Christmas style. As a relatively newly married couple we are still meshing our ideas of what Christmas should look like.

Take for instance how my husband likes to decorate the exterior of our home. Growing up he and his family really looked up to the Griswolds. They covered every inch of their home in lights and Christmas figurines- twinkle lights, big lights, small lights, icicle lights, Santas, igloos, penguins, candy canes! They are equal opportunity lights kind of people except when it comes to white lights. White lights are boring.

I first met my husband’s family at Christmas.  He told me constantly about his and his family’s love for Christmas lights.  It wasn’t until I was standing in the dark in his front yard while he turned on each strand of lights that I truly understood the magnitude of their love for lights.  Later that trip, he warned me that if I needed to use the microwave for anything, I’d need to make sure the lights were turned off first.  This little tip was learned after many times of tripping the breaker and feeling around in the dark to turn the lights back on. Their breaker simply can’t handle the outrageous number of Christmas lights and the microwave

My family, on the other hand, took a more restrained approach.  Don’t get me wrong, we cover our Christmas tree in colored lights and tinsel, but we rarely decorated the outside of our home.  When we did, it was a few strands of white lights. Growing up, I loved the homes that had just a touch of white lights with lots of greenery. Naively, I just knew that my husband would have the same taste in Christmas lights and our home would forever be tastefully decorated.

Our first year of marriage, like many others’, was a year of learning and combining our family’s traditions.  When it came to Christmas lights, I knew that my reality would be different than my previous dreams. My husband carried his family’s tradition of lights into our family’s decorating.  He says that kids like to look at lots and lots of colored lights.  So as not to disappoint, he covers our house in covered lights.  While I didn’t love it at first, I can’t deny that it is pretty precious to see how excited he is each year when we add more lights.

Each year, he works tirelessly to decorate our home.  And each year, I say “Wait, wait, don’t turn them on until I’m standing outside!” So then I stand out side in the dark while he turns on each strand of lights.  And when they’re all turned on, I say “Oh my gosh, it’s beautiful!  The best house on the street!” I really am starting to love this little tradition.

That folks, is what makes our marriage work! We combine the traditions that we can, but there are some traditions that just can’t be changed.

Knowing that my home will forever be covered in colored lights at Christmas, I know that simple greenery just won’t cut it.  In an effort to support these holiday decorations, I was inspired to make an ornament wreath. It’s colorful, sparkly, and won’t be lost when the lights are turned on.  If you know me, you know I tend to go all in so one ornament wreath turned into three ornament wreaths to make a snowman that covers almost our entire door.

This year, with great anticipation, we brought the ornament wreath snowman down from our attic. As Dan was bringing it down the stairs, I heard the thud, thud, thud, of loose ornaments rolling down the stairs. This is not the sound you want to hear.

This is what was left of our wreath:

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Poor Frosty.  We suspect that when our air conditioner was repaired the repairman stepped on the wreath loosening the ornaments. I will not be upset about it though because that angel of a repairman fixed our air conditioning unit in the summer in Alabama. He is a saint in my book.

This project is really easy, but does require some time. I’ll show you how to make it using what’s left of Frosty.

You will need:

3 wire frame wreaths (I used 8″, 12″, and 16″ wire frames)

Ornaments (150-250 of varying sizes)

Hot Glue Gun and Hot Glue Sticks

Floral Wire/Zip Ties

A note about ornaments: The ornaments are the most expensive part of this wreath, primarily because you need so many of them.  To cut down on costs, I purchased most of my medium and small ornaments from a dollar store. The large ornaments were a steal from Home Goods. They had a giant tub of ornaments-75 total- for less than 30 dollars.  These really made the wreath because of their unique colors and shapes.  If you keep a look out for Christmas décor sales, you can usually find lots of great ornaments!

To begin, hot glue medium/large sized ornaments to the outer rim of the metal frame. You can easily attach the ornament by hot gluing both of the outer wires of the frame, and nestling the ornament on the glued frame. Do this with the prong going through the frames and towards the ground. IMAG0444

When these are secure, glue medium/large sized ornaments to the inner rim using the same process. Try to connect as many points as possible to keep the ornaments secure.  For example, if your inner ornament can be glued to two spots on the wire frame and the ornament beside it, you’ve hit ornament wreath gold! The more points you can glue, the more secure your wreath!

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Once the two rows of ornaments are secure, begin filling in the gaps on the top.  You can use small, medium, or large ornaments.  Really go crazy filling in those gaps!

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At this point, you’re gluing the top ornament to the lower ornaments.  I like to lay out the ornaments to see where they will best fit and fill in the most gaps, and then glue the ornaments in place. I didn’t have any method for deciding which ornament went where other than filling in the gaps and separating some of the similar colors.  For example, if there was a red ornament on the bottom, I didn’t put a red ornament on top.

You  can use this process for each of the three wreaths.  When the wreaths are completed and the ornaments are secure, you can start attaching the wreaths to make the snowman shape!

Carefully turn the wreath over with the ornaments facing down. Using floral wire, secure one wreath to the other like so:

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I cut several inches of floral wire then made several loops through the exterior wires of the wreath frames.  I wrapped the tail of the wire around the loops to secure it.

I so wish I could give you more specific instructions, but this is really a trial and error process. You want the loops to hold the wreaths close enough that you don’t see a lot of wire, but you don’t want the loops so tight that it tilts the wreaths and makes them uncentered. Just play around with the lengths until it looks right to you.

When the wreaths are attached, hang the wreath on you door! Colored lights optional.

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Rustic Ornaments

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These ornaments are super simple to make.  Like almost embarrassingly simple.  Like typing these directions is probably more complicated. Simple.

Sometimes the simple things are the best things though.  These ornaments looked great on our Christmas tree!

Here’s what you’ll need to make the ornaments:

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That’s raffia ribbon, Styrofoam balls, fabric, needles, and scissors.

I purchased two different sizes of ornaments.  The sizes I used were 80 mm and 100 mm ornaments.  I purchased them in packs of six.  So, two packs of 80 mm and two packs of 100 mm ornaments for a total of 24 ornaments.

For this amount of ornaments (24) I purchased two yards of fabric.

For an 80 mm ornament, cut a square of fabric that is 7 inches wide and 7.5 inches long.  Does that make this a rectangle of fabric?

Also cut two strips of fabric that are each 10.25 inches in length.  And, cut one piece of raffia that is 7 inches long.

For an 100 mm ornament, cut a square/rectangle of fabric that is 9 inches in length and 9.5 inches in width.

Also cut two strips of fabric that are each 13 inches in length, and raffia that is 7 inches long.

To make the ornament, begin by poking one needle through the ends of the raffia, making a loop.  This is the last piece you’ll use, but it helps to have it ready from the beginning.

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Place the fabric square right side down. Lay the fabric strips over each other so that they make a cross shape.  It helps things move a little faster when you have the square and the strips side by side.

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Place the Styrofoam ball in the center-ish of the fabric.  If it’s not perfectly center, that’s okay. Then, fold one corner of the fabric to the center of the ball.

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Continue folding the corners to the center of the Styrofoam ball in an alternating pattern.  So, if you start with top left corner, your next fold should be from the bottom right. When all four corners are folded, it should look like this.

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Now, you need your fabric strips.  Place the cloth covered ball in the center of the fabric strips.

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Fold one strip of fabric to the center of the Styrofoam ball.  Continue this until all strips have wrapped around the ball.  You may have to tuck some of the fabric corners under the strip.  That’s okay!  Remember these are rustic decorations, not perfect decorations.

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Once the four sides of the strips have been wrapped around the Styrofoam ball, secure the fabric with the raffia and needle.

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Now, go hang them on your tree!

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See what I mean? These are ridiculously simple, but they made a great impact on our tree!  I hope you enjoy them!

You may remember that the original plan for today’s post was to show you how to make an ornament wreath (in addition to the ornaments).  But, I called an audible.  I made a change.  After several crazy busy weeks and little time at home, Dan and I decided we needed to spend some time together and finally buy our Christmas tree.

You know by now that I love a good Christmas tree.  So, we had to find the perfect tree tonight!  We set off for this really cute tree lot- café lights and all.  When we got there, it was closed.  Like had closed two hours before we got there.  What kind of tree lot closes before most people even get home from work?

Not to be defeated, we set off for Home Depot.  There were no café lights, but there were trees.  I was pretty disappointed by the trees on display, when my husband gently turned me to the huge lot attached to the store.  Angels sang.  We spent the next half hour in the cold, deciding between several trees which looking back on it probably all looked the same.

We decided on a tree, took it home, turned on some Christmas music (specifically Otis Redding Holiday, my new favorite thing) then started decorating the tree!  It felt great to spend some time at home, but that meant there was no time for finishing the ornament wreath.  Luckily, that just means there’s more Christmas decorating to come!

I hope you’ll check back in to see the finished ornament wreath with step by step instructions! 

And, I hope you’ll follow Mim and Olive on Instagram.  You’ll see glimpses of the day to day things I love to celebrate! Like a good Christmas tree and a great guy!

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