Sunday, December 23, 2012

Favorite Christmas Ornaments

Christmas is almost here - only 2 more days! I hope you have the tree decorated, your house all decked out and are going to be spending some time with your favorite people.

I wanted to share some of my favorite ornaments. It seems like our favorite ornaments always come from a special person or have a special back story that make them our favorites. This first one is one that my husband and I got at an engagement shower (a Christmastime engagement shower) before we were married. It's just funny to think of Santa in a swimsuit. You always think of him in his red and white suit, complete with black boots, right? This ornament features a spring in the middle so Santa can wiggle a little on the tree!
Favorite Santa Ornament
My next favorite ornament is made out of punched tin. It's an Auburn logo and in case you didn't know, I'm an Auburn grad and fan, as is my husband, so of course we love it. This one was a gift, and came from a craft expo/show of some sort that a friend went to. We love how unique it is.
Favorite Auburn Ornament
The next one also came from a craft expo/show and was a gift from a family member. It's a personalized ornament for our sweet dog, Maggie. You have to have an ornament for your pets too you know!
Dog Bone Ornament
The last one is one of my childhood favorites that is hung on the Christmas tree at my parents' each year. It's an ornament that has a place to put one of the lights through so it illuminates the inside of the little house. You can see Santa, Mrs. Claus and their dog (of course they have a dog!) enjoying a fire. As children, my brother and I would fight over getting to hang this ornament where we thought it should go. I still look for it every time I come home at Christmas.
Favorite Christmas Ornament
I hope everyone has a very Merry Christmas! What are your favorite ornaments? Do they have a special meaning or did they come from someone special?

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Favorite Jambalaya

I'm a fan of the one pot meals. One pot wonders, if you will. Somehow those seem to be the most comforting meals, don't you agree? Think about it: chilis, soups, pastas, casseroles. They are some of my favorites.

I want to share one of my favorites; it's a jambalaya recipe from Cooking Light that we have made over and over. It's a no-fail recipe for us. And of course, it's a one pot wonder. (Click image for a larger picture.)
Favorite Jambalaya Recipe

Check out the recipe here. We make a few small adjustments that I'd recommend if you're trying the recipe:
  1. Add the tomatoes before simmering instead of after. Drain them slightly before adding.
  2. We use about 1 tablespoon of Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning instead of ground red pepper and salt.
  3. Try subbing in shrimp for one of the meats. Cook it separately and then add it to the pot at the end when chicken would be added.
Start with the trinity (onion, bell pepper, celery)...

And end with one delicious dinner!
Favorite Jambalaya Recipe

I hope you'll give it a try and let me know what you think. It's an easy meal that you'll want to repeat again soon. And you'll get to - one of the best parts of this recipe is the leftovers. It is even better the second day. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Christmas Tree Bow Topper Tutorial

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas at my house! While I love the smell of a real tree, we have a nice, pre-lit artificial tree. You can't forget to water it and don't end up with pine needles all over the floor. And you can always get a yummy Christmas tree scented candle to make up for it, right?

Anyway, as I got out our tree decorations this year, I thought our tree topper bow looked a little sad. I made it a few years ago and it just wasn't cutting it anymore, no matter how much fluffing I did. So I started looking for a good tutorial online. I found a few helpful tutorials (this one and this one) but wanted to share the tips and insights I gathered as I made a new tree topper. Read on for my Christmas tree bow topper tutorial.

Items needed:
  • Wire-edged ribbon of your choice
  • Two pipe cleaners/chenille stems matching your ribbon
  • Scissors
The ribbon I picked came in 30 feet rolls. It was way more than I needed. I think 20 feet would be plenty if I could guess. 
Christmas ribbon from Hobby Lobby 
Start by pulling a good bit of ribbon off the spool. This will make the bow making easier. Allow enough ribbon for the end (or tail) that will hang down the tree, and make your first loop. Keep in mind the bigger you want the bow, the bigger your loops should be.
Christmas Tree Bow Topper Tutorial
The next step is key if you have ribbon printed on one side only and you want the print to show. Twist the ribbon over once (180 degrees, not 360), like this:
Christmas Tree Bow Topper Tutorial
Make a loop (which will now be print side out) the same size as your first loop. Follow it with your 180 degree twist like this:
Christmas Tree Bow Topper Tutorial
Make a lot more loops, remembering to twist 180 degrees after each loop or your ribbon print won't show on each loop. Also remember to keep the loops the same size so your bow will be even. Think about how big and full you want your bow to be. I made 10 loops (5 per side) for my tree topper bow.
Once the last loop is made, leave enough ribbon for the end or "tail" to hang down on the tree. I'd recommend going longer than you think you need and you can trim it later. Twist a pipe cleaner or chenille stem around the center of the bow where you have been holding it. Tuck the ends under the rest of the pipe cleaner or chenille stem to secure it.
Christmas Tree Bow Topper Tutorial
And fluff.
Christmas Tree Bow Topper Tutorial
Then hang it on the tree. The best way I found to do this is create a loop for the top of your tree with another pipe cleaner and attach it to the one you used on your bow. Now, stand back and admire your work!
Christmas Tree Bow Topper Tutorial
Christmas Tree Bow Topper Tutorial