Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 Recap

Boy this year sure went fast. I can't believe it's already the last day of the year. It was a pretty good year. E and I celebrated our 10th anniversary with a trip to San Diego. C turned four and J turned two. I also took on some me responsibilities at work; I feel like I'm challenging myself more since I haven't done anything like this before.

Also for this year I made a list of things wanted to accomplish instead of one or two big resolutions. I did okay checking things off the list (15/29). One thing I wanted to do was come up with new dinner ideas so I challenged myself to cook a new dinner each month. I only managed to hit 6 of the 12 months and only managed to find one or two things to make. Another goal involved some baking, which didn't happen either.

I also wanted to expand my knitting skills so the plan was to learn to knit in the round and learn to cable knit. I didn't get a chance to practice cable knitting but someone showed me how to do it, so hopefully that skill will come in the new year. I did check one new skill off when I learned to knit in the round and boy did that open up a whole new world of knitting. I was able to make some pretty cute toys for my nieces and nephew for Christmas. Other skills I learned were picking up stitches, kitchner, three needle bind off, the knitted cast on and the kfb stitch. I also participated in my first knit along.

I definitely plan setting my goals like this in the future. It gave me small, manageable things to do, rather than all or nothing. Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas recipes

As I mentioned in a previous post, I made a few desserts and a batch of salsa for Christmas. I wasn't the happiest with how the salsa turned out but it wasn't too bad for my first attempt.

2 cans of tomatoes (I like my salsa really smooth so I used one can crushed and one finely diced.
1 onion, chopped
1-2 jalapeƱos, diced
1 tbsp chopped garlic
Cilantro (I used a handful or so)
Dash of salt

I would also recommend adding some green chiles and lime juice; I think at was the missing component.

I mixed it up in a bowl and the used my immersion blender to really blend it together.

The next item I made was peppermint bark. Usually I just do candy quick with  the peppermints but this year I added semi sweet chocolate too.

6 pieces of almond bark (aka white chocolate aka candy quick)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/2 small bag of starlight mints (candy canes work too)

Line an 8" x 8" pan with wax paper. Crush mints until they are a fine powder and set aside. Melt the chocolate chips over low heat. When fully melted spread into pan. Melt the almond bark and add in most of the mints and stir. Pour over the chocolate in the pan. Sprinkle the remaining mints on top. Refrigerate until set. Break into pieces.
Peppermint bark
Last but certainly not least were my peanut butter balls (aka buckeyes)

3/4 cup butter
1 1/2-2 cups peanut butter
3 1/4 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

On low-medium heat melt the butter and peanut butter until liquid and well blended. Add in vanilla and stir. Remove from heat and incorporate powdered sugar. Once blended form into little balls (1") and drop the balls on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Allow them to set in the refrigerator for at least half an hour. Melt the chocolate over low heat. Using a toothpick dip the balls in the melted chocolate. Return them to the fridge when dipped to set up.

I make these every year so in my haste I forgot to get a picture. But trust me these are good! 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


We celebrated Christmas over the last few days with E's family and my family. We started off by going to the Christmas Eve service at my church. Afterwards we drove through our neighborhood, looking at all of the luminarias lining the streets. Then it was on to my parent's house for some fun. I brought over my treats to share as well as my salsa for the first annual salsa contest (I'll post the recipes in a separate post). 


We also exchanged gifts - I think the boys liked what they got.

On Christmas morning, Santa visited our house. Yesterday C was able to put his art supplies from Santa to good use decorating a rocket ship he got from his Aunt and Uncle.

Next we went over to my inlaws' house; they have a wonderful tradition of having a big breakfast together on Christmas morning - bacon, sausage, potatoes, rolls, etc.

We also had to go back over to my parents after that - my cousin, who I haven't seen in a few years, was back in town with his family. 

What a busy couple of days! My boys did pretty well for being on the go constantly and not getting as much sleep as they should have. The knitted gifts went over well. One niece squished and cuddled the ladybug and slept with the blanket that night. The other screamed in excitement when she saw the bear! Yay!

Hopefully things won't be as crazy this week but I'm not holding out hope on that. We have New Years parties as well as a couple of birthdays (including someone turning 2!) Here we go again!

Friday, December 23, 2011

December happenings

My poor neglected blog! I have been insanely busy this month. I took on some new responsibilities at work recently and have been working a lot to keep up. This meant spending the little free time getting stuff ready for Christmas and hanging with the boys. Here's a quick snapshot of what we've been doing this month.

We went to look at lights downtown:
And the boys got to have a treat too!

We also checked out the lights in our neighborhood. I love my neighborhood - most of the houses put at least a few decorations up. So we bundled the boys up and took them around. (Sorry for the blurry picture. It's the only one I was able to get.)
We even got some rain, a very refreshing change when you live in a desert (I think I've mentioned my love of rain on here a few times.)

The boys also got to decorate (and eat) cookies over at their grandma's house with their cousins!

So far it's been a fun month! Can't wait to write about the rest of our fun!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Knitted Ornaments

The ornaments that I mentioned earlier are coming along nicely so far. I've managed to finish five of them over the last couple of days. 
The wreaths are simply an I cord with four stitches cast on and knitted for about 7-8 inches and sewn together at the ends. I did another I cord in red for 7 inches then made into a bow and sewn onto the wreath.

The bells were pretty easy as well. The pattern can be found on Ravelry.

And my favorite so far is the Santa hat. It's a Susan B. Anderson pattern - I absolutely love her patterns!

My plan is to get about 10 more made and attach them as part of the wrapping on my Christmas presents. Luckily they are coming along quickly!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Yep I'm Crazy

So even though Christmas is only 2 and a half weeks away, and even though we are down a person at work so I've been working crazy hours, and even though I have two baby blankets that need to be done by the first week in January, I decided to add to my Christmas knitting. I decided to make some Christmas ornaments. I at least want to make a few for people getting gift cards. Thy knit pretty quick at least. I finished a bell in one evening and a wreath while I was talking on the phone. Optimally I'd like to use them as decoration for the presents. We'll see! I'll post pics once I get a few more done (and get the pics actually taken).

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Peanut Butter "Cheese" Ball

As part of the cookie exchange I went to today, I had to bring something to share for our potluck lunch. I decided to go with something I found on Pinterest(Have I mentioned lately how much I love that site?!). It linked me to this fabulous peanut butter ball from The Girl Who Ate Everything.

This recipe is really easy. All you need are:
1 package of cream cheese (8 oz package)
3/4 cup peanut butter
1 cup powdered sugar
3 tbsp of brown sugar
1 package chocolate chips

Combine everything except the chocolate chips in a bowl until well blended

Place the mixture on some Saran wrap and draw up the sides, forming it into a bowl. Secure the wrap and place in the freezer for a few hours, until it sets up. Next roll the mixture in the chocolate chips and freeze until 2-3 hours before you need to serve it. It needs at least a few hours to set up but I left mine in there for a few days and it still tasted great. I served mine with graham crackers.

Cookie Exchange

Why are there a bunch of snowmen on my counter? Well I am going to a cookie exchange tomorrow. There are a few cookies in each of those bags.

Sometimes prepping for the cookie exchange can be hard work. It's on a Saturday so I don't really have much time to prep (week nights are hard to get anything done). On the other hand if I bake the cookies too early they go stale. This year I decided to try something new. I made three batches of my chocolate cookie recipe. I froze on batch before cooking and the other two after. I think freezing the cookie turned out better than the dough. A few of the crumbled but overall they look fine. The dough however never froze solid so it was hard to condense it own. If I can't save the space the I'd rather bake then freeze.

I'm really looking forward tomorrow. Can't wait to see what everyone has made.