Top Projects of 2012 and 2013 Ideas

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Top Projects of 2012
I thought it would be cool to look back at some of the projects I completed around the house in 2012. Since I started this blog in August of this year, I haven't really captured the other projects I have done around the house, so I will focus on the projects I blogged about since August. Here they are!



2013 Projects

For 2013, I honestly don't have anything major planned in terms of renovations or crafts for the home. I think we are done with the renovations in our home. We own a small semi-detached home, which needed some TLC and modernizing when we first moved in. We renovated the kitchen (which was two years ago, and I never blogged about that!), finished our unfinished basement, modernized our bathroom, painted all our trim and replaced the interior and exterior doors. Because we are planning to move out by the end of 2013 or beginning of 2014, we will more likely be shifting our concentration towards saving money for a new (bigger) home! However, I did find a few things that should be complete in 2013.

1. Update window coverings
The window coverings in our living room came with the house. They no longer work properly, and I am forced to keep them closed during the day. As you can see in the picture below, the outdated and orange old-school window coverings we have are in need of updating!

2. Wall Art
If you recall from my post in October about the wall art that I was so eager to do, I have a confession to make. I have not yet put them up! Which is why I plan to do it in 2013!

3. Sew an apron
Since I have started to sew, I was thinking my next step should be to try my skills at an apron. I love cooking and baking, so this will surely come in handy!
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Goals for 2013

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Hello all! Hope you all had a very Merry Christmas! We had a wonderful Christmas that was spent with both sides of the family. We ate, sang, played, talked and relaxed both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day! I love the holidays - this is what it is all about! I am now starting to look forward to the New Year. I always make sure to look back and reflect on the past year, and think of ways I can improve in the new year. This year was a very busy year for me, as I was planning for my wedding for half the year, and the other half was spent trying to put my regular routine back in order (or get into a new routine). Which is why I have big plans for 2013!

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What are your New Years Resolutions?

Christmas Break

Friday, December 21, 2012

Hello everyone! Thanks for stopping by! It is finally snowing here where I live, and I couldn't be any more happier! I just have to pray extra hard that the snow sticks to the ground and stays here until after Christmas, so that we have a white Christmas! Speaking of the holidays I hope you are all ready to spend some quality time with your family and friends. I know I sure will! During my time off work, I will make sure to spend the time to rest, relax and catch up with all my loved ones. Which is why I won't be on the blog-sphere for the next few days. I am sure you are all going to be busy anyways, enjoying yourselves. I promise I'll be back after Christmas, maybe sharing a recipe or two with you. I hope you enjoy yourselves and have a very Merry Christmas!!

Christmas Nail Art

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I love doing my nails for the holidays! It helps get me more in the spirit! Plus I love doing different designs. This year I am doing snowmen on my nails. I will show you how you can do this same look without the nail salon price! It's so easy to do as well (if you have a steady hand!).

All you need is white, red and black nail polish, a q-tip and a toothpick.





Holiday Favourite Things

Monday, December 17, 2012

I thought this post would be best to make today, since we are now in the single digits of the countdown until Christmas, and I know I still have to pick up a few more things for gifts (meaning I have to drag myself to the mall which is probably the busiest time ever!). So I thought I would mention to you what my favourite  things are during the holiday season that help reduce my stress.

1. Parchment Paper
Yes, parchment paper is on the top of my list. Why? Because I avoid having to grease, bake, and re-wash my pans when making cookies. I reuse the parchment paper and end up making 4-5 batches of cookies until I can throw it away. It is easy, convenient, and such a great product! I just started using it this year, and it has truly sped up my time that I am in the kitchen.

2. Christmas Music
Where I live, there are two particular stations that start playing Christmas music from mid-November until December 26th. So I always tune in to these radio stations to help me get in the mood for Christmas. I listed when I decorate the tree, bake cookies and meals, wrap presents, and even drive to work or shopping. I know that I only have about a month’s worth of these Christmas songs, so no I do not get tired from listening to “Rudolph the red nosed reindeer”! Plus, with the holiday madness on the roads, I just crank up my holiday tunes and that helps me stay sane!

3. Christmas Notebook
I have a little book where I keep all of my “to-do” lists organized. I specifically bought a red one this year so I can keep my cooking and baking ideas, present lists, and anything else that comes up. Before I go shopping, I make sure to look through this book and see if and what I need to buy. And I always check over my recipes to make sure I have all of the ingredients called for.

4. Wine
I always make sure to have a bottle of wine during the holiday season. This is for many reasons, other than what you are thinking! Yes I do like to indulge in a glass every now and then, but I also have a bottle in case we get some unexpected visitors, or I am just too busy cooking for guests that I have no time to run out to the store and buy a bottle. It is also a back-up gift, cause you never know when you’ll need it!


Peppermint Sugar Cookies

Thursday, December 13, 2012

I have decided to take the last two days of my cookie series and post some Pinterest inspired cookies. These will be just recipes I found from Pinterest and pinned to my holiday cookies board, and I will provide the link to the recipes as well as the picture from the website. Enjoy!
Today, on the last day of this series, will be inspired by Pinterest again. This cookie is basic but festive. It is your traditional sugar cookie but with a touch of peppermint. I can't wait to bake them closer to Christmas! This recipe is from Recipe Girl. Enjoy!
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Bittersweet Chocolate & Peppermint Sandwiches
Prep time: 25 mins        Total Time: 35 mins          Yield: About 36 cookies

Ingredients
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 3/4 cup powdered sugar
- 1 large egg yolk
- 2 large egg whites
- 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
- 1/2 cup finely crushed hard peppermint candies or candy canes (about 3-ounces)
- additional powdered sugar for rolling

Directions
1. Sift together dry ingredients- flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.
2. In a large bowl, beat butter and powdered sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg yolk and beat until blended. Add egg whites and extract and mix well (mixture will look grainy). Gradually beat dry ingredients into butter mixture. Stir in peppermint candies.
3. Gather dough into a ball. Wrap dough in plastic and chill for about an hour.
4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Position rack in middle of oven. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.
5. Form dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in powdered sugar and place on prepared baking sheets, spacing 2 inches apart. Using tines of a fork, flatten each cookie, creating crisscross pattern.
6. Bake until cookies are golden on bottom, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer to racks to cool completely.

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This is the end of my "12 days of Christmas cookies"mini-series for this year! To view all of the goodies I baked, click on the image below! Thanks for joining! 

Wishing you and your family all the best this holiday season!


Bittersweet Chocolate & Peppermint Sandwiches

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I have decided to take the last two days of my cookie series and post some Pinterest inspired cookies. These will be just recipes I found from Pinterest and pinned to my holiday cookies board, and I will provide the link to the recipes as well as the picture from the website. Enjoy!
For this post I decided to go with a very elegant dessert. Doesn't it look so good? The recipe comes from the Better Homes and Gardens website. Enjoy!
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Bittersweet Chocolate & Peppermint Sandwiches
Prep time: 1 hour        Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes          Yield: About 36 cookies

Ingredients
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 egg
- 2 cups all purpose flour
Frosting
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 1-2 tbsp milk
- 1/2 tsp peppermint extract
- 3 oz bittersweet chocolate, melted and slightly cooled

Directions
1. In a large bowl, beat the 3/4 cup butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar and baking powder; beat until combined. Beat in egg. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour.
2. Divide dough in half. Place each dough half between two sheets of waxed paper; roll each to a 12x10-inch rectangle. Chill dough rectangles for 30 minutes.
3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove top sheets of waxed paper. Using a fluted pastry wheel or pizza cutter, cut each dough rectangle lengthwise into 10 strips and crosswise into 6 strips to make sixty 2x1-inch rectangles per dough half (120 rectangles total). Transfer dough rectangles to an ungreased cookie sheet, leaving 1 inch between rectangles. (If necessary, chill dough about 15 minutes more before transferring.) Bake in preheated oven for 7 to 9 minutes or until edges are very lightly browned. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool.
4. For the frosting: In a medium bowl, beat the 1/4 cup butter on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add 1 cup of the powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon of the milk, and the peppermint extract; beat until smooth. Beat in the remaining 1 cup powdered sugar and enough of the remaining milk to make a frosting of spreading consistency. If desired, use food coloring to tint frosting pink.
5. To assemble, pipe or spread a little of the frosting on the bottom of one cookie; top with a second cookie, flat side down, and press lightly together. Pipe or spread with more of the frosting; top with a third cookie, flat side down. Repeat with the remaining cookies and the remaining frosting. Pipe dots of melted chocolate around edges of each assembled sandwich cookie or drizzle the melted chocolate over cookies. Chill about 30 minutes or until chocolate is set. Makes about 36 sandwich cookies.

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Chocolate Snowballs

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

I just love these festive little cookies. They have the same texture as a cake or brownie, and are great as finger food for parties. The original recipe called for 3 tbsp of brewed coffee, but I decided to stick to only cocoa for the flavours of this little cookie. Delish!


Chocolate Snowballs
Prep time: 15 minutes        Total Time: 30 minutes          Yield: About 25-30 cookies

Ingredients
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 60g bittersweet chocolate
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 3/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup icing sugar

Directions
1. In a double broiler or heatproof bowl over a saucepan filled with hot water, melt butter with chocolate, stirring constantly to allow chocolate to melt smoothly. Set aside.
2. In a large bowl beat egg with brown sugar until smooth and thick. Beat in chocolate mixture. In a small bowl combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Add to chocolate mixture beating until combined. Cover and refrigerate for one hour.
3. Pour icing sugar into bowl. Using tablespoon, roll dough into balls. Roll each ball into icing sugar to coat. Place onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets about 2-inches apart.
4. Preheat oven to 325°F. Bake cookies in center of oven until set and cracked around the edges, about 13 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on pans for about 5 minutes, then transfer to cooking rack to cool completely.

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Red, Green and Gold Holiday Vignette

Hello! Thanks for stopping by at this busy time of the year. I have been so busy with everything Christmas, from baking cookies to crafts to watching my fave movies. I finally had time to take some pictures of my holiday vignette I have in the family room. I am welcoming you to see my display, so come on in and take a peek for yourselves!

This is what the vignette looks like. I went with a red, green and gold theme this year. It is traditional, but it also goes very well with the wall colour. Nothing too bold.

I have an evergreen tree in the back yard, so I snipped some branches off and used them as my garland along the front of the table. I bought some snowflake ornaments and stuck them in the branches for a more "winter wonderland" sort of look.

I decided to display some pretty gold and red ornaments on a gold charger plate. Simple, easy and very pretty. Adding some snowflakes ties in with the look of the garland.

I filled three tall vases of varying sizes with some faux snow found at the dollar store. Sticking in some pieces of evergreen branches, I wanted to create a winter scene in a vase.

I love this nutcracker from HomeSense. Again, keeping up with the colour scheme of golf and silver.

I was thinking of the best ways to display our Christmas cards. I decided on using table card holders from our wedding to hold each card. It displays it nicely and provides some nice decor to the table.

Have you decorated for Christmas yet?

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Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

Monday, December 10, 2012

Hope everyone had a great weekend! During my Christmas cookie baking this weekend, I came across a neat recipe in one of the Christmas cookbooks. I never thought that peanut butter would be part of a Christmas cookie, but there is something about it that makes it yummy for this time of year. I love how you "get to the centre" of this cookie, with a peanut butter surprise. Plus it is easy to make! It's like a baked version of Reese's peanut butter cups! Enjoy!


Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies
Prep time: 15 minutes        Total Time: 30 minutes          Yield: About 40-50 cookies

Ingredients
- 1 cup icing sugar
- 1 cup smooth peanut butter
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 1-1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup chopped peanuts for garnish

Directions
1. In a small bowl, stir icing sugar with peanut butter until smooth. Roll by 1 tsp into balls. Should produce about 40 balls. If the peanut butter becomes too sticky while rolling, add some more icing sugar to your hands to reduce sticking. Place on baking trays lined with parchment paper. Refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a large bowl beat butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. In a small bowl combine flour, cocoa powder and baking soda. Add to butter mixture beating until combined.
3. Using tablespoon, roll dough into balls. Flatten each ball into disks and place chilled peanut butter ball in centre. Bring up dough over peanut butter ball and roll out into smooth balls. Place onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets about 2-inches apart. Using the bottom of a glass or your palm, lightly press on each dough ball. Press peanuts into the top to garnish each cookie.
4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake cookies in center of oven until set, about 10 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on pans for about 5 minutes, then transfer to cooking rack to cool completely.

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Icebox Cranberry Noel Cookies

Saturday, December 8, 2012

I love that these icebox cookies are filled with cranberries (perfect fruit of the season) and walnuts (a popular nut of the season). This is my mom's recipe that she was so nice enough to share. I remember one year making so many different cookies with her. Such good memories! You can change it up if you don't like either cranberries or walnuts, or try to go a different route and add some blueberries or cherries for a kick. Whatever you do, it will be good! Enjoy!


Icebox Cranberry Noel Cookies
Prep time: 15 minutes        Total Time: 30 minutes          Yield: About 50-60 cookies

Ingredients
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 3/4 cups icing sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2-1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 cup chopped walnuts

Directions
1. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add egg and vanilla, beating until combined.
2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, salt, cranberries and chopped walnuts. Add to butter mixture beating until combined. Divide dough into two even balls. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour, or freeze for 20 minutes. When ready to roll, let dough stand at room temperature until soft enough to roll out.
3. Between two waxed papers, roll out one dough ball to approximately 1/4-inch thickness. Using a round cookie cutter, cut out cookies. You can use shaped cookie cutters to make fun cookies. Alternatively, before you cool your dough, roll it out into a long log. This makes cookies easier to cut into circles. Transfer cut cookies onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Repeat the same with the other half of the dough (or you can freeze it for future cookie times!). Refrigerate cookies for 15 minutes or until firm.
4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake cookies in center of oven until edges are golden, about 10 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on pans for about 5 minutes, then transfer to cooking rack to cool completely.

Variations:
Replace dried cranberries with other dried fruit, such as cherries, currants or blueberries.
Instead of cranberries and walnuts, add chopped candied red and green cherries for a festive and delicious cookie.

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Linzer Sandwich Cookies

Friday, December 7, 2012

I love linzer cookies. Maybe it's the way they are represented, maybe it's the jam filling, or maybe it's how pretty they are. Either way, these are my favourite to eat during the holiday season. To me, no other cookie represents the holidays better than the linzer cookie. This is my favourite recipe, adopted from Martha Stewart. Enjoy!


Linzer Sandwich Cookies
Prep time: 30 minutes        Total Time: 50 minutes          Yield: About 24-30 cookies

Ingredients
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 2/3 cups granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp grated lemon zest
- 2/3 cups raspberry jam (I used plum butter)

Directions
1. In a large bowl, beat butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla, beating until combined.
2. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt and lemon zest. Add to butter mixture beating until combined. Divide dough into two even balls. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour, or freeze for 20 minutes. When ready to roll, let dough stand at room temperature until soft enough to roll out.
3. Between two waxed papers, roll out one dough ball to approximately 1/4-inch thickness. Using a fluted cookie cutter, cut out cookies. If you have a fluted cookie cutter with shapes in the middle, make sure to make equal amounts of center cut-outs and regular cut-outs (in order to make sandwich cookies). Transfer cut cookies onto parchment paper-lined cookie sheets. Repeat the same with the other half of the dough (or you can freeze it for future cookie times!). Refrigerate cookies for 15 minutes or until firm.
4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake cookies in center of oven until edges are golden, about 10 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on pans for about 5 minutes, then transfer to cooking rack to cool completely. Spread tablespoon of jam onto bottoms of each cookie. Dust confectioners' sugar over decorative tops. Sandwich together the jam-covered bottoms with sugar-dusted tops. Enjoy!

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Mincemeat Mini Pies

Thursday, December 6, 2012

There is a growing trend out for mini pies. They are cute, are individual (no cutting required) and you end up with so much filling (you know how pie tends to be, once you cut the slice all the filling starts to slowly ooze out as you try to put it on the plate). This is probably my easiest recipe of this series, simply because all you need is store bought crust and store bought filling. Did I get lazy in any of the ingredients? ...Maybe (I mean you try to bake every day for 12 days!). Haha, but honestly sometimes you don't have time to whip up something delicious when your cousin from California says she is about an hour away and will be stopping by for a couple days. You just have enough time to whip up some nice home-made mini pies, get the guest room ready and look like you were expecting her! Enjoy!


Mincemeat Mini Pies
Prep time: 20 minutes        Total Time: 30 minutes          Yield: 12 Mini Pies

Ingredients
- 1 pkg ready made pie crust (I used Pillsbury)
- 1 cup ready made mincemeat (you can use cherry, apple, lemon, etc!)

Directions
1. Grease muffin pans. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough. Using a round cookie cutter or cup (about 3-1/2 inches in diameter) cut out 12 circles. Press lightly into the muffin pans to form the pie shell. Fill with filling, about one to two tablespoons.If you want to do a lattice style on top, cut dough into strips and place in alternating manner (one on top of the other). If you want a full top, cut out 12 more circles and place on top. Press edges lightly to seal.
3. Bake in center of oven until golden, about 10 minutes. Allow to cool for a bit. Serve warm.

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Linzer Pinwheel Cookies

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

On the fifth day of Christmas cookies, my true love baked me some pinwheel cookies with raspberry jam! (Ok...maybe he didn't...but these sure were yummy to make and to eat!). You can use any kind of jam. The traidtional filling is raspberry jam, but for these I used a rhubarb and raspberry jam mix. It was yummy! Enjoy!


Linzer Pinwheel Cookies
Prep time: 30 minutes        Total Time: 1.5 hours          Yield: About 60-65 cookies

Ingredients
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp lemon juice (or fresh lemon peel)
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 2/3 cups raspberry jam

Directions
1. In a large bowl, beat butter until fluffy. Add in sugar, baking powder and salt. Beat until fluffy. Beat in eggs and lemon juice until combined. Start adding flour in three additions.
2. Divide dough into two even balls. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour, or freeze for 20 minutes. When ready to roll, let dough stand at room temperature until soft enough to roll out.
3. Between two waxed papers, roll out one dough ball to approximately 12 x 10-inch rectangle at 1/4-inch thickness. Spread half of the jam evenly onto the rectangle.Starting at the long side, roll up dough. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in freezer for 15 minutes, until firm enough to cut. Repeat the same with the other half of the dough (or you can freeze it for future cookie times!). Preheat oven to 375°F.
4. Cut rolls into 1/4-inch thickness. To avoid flattening the round cookies, continuously rotate the rolled up dough as you cut. If the dough becomes too soft place back into the fridge until firm, about 10 minutes. Place cut side down on parchment paper-lined baking sheet about 2-inches apart. Bake cookies in center of oven until edges are golden, about 10 minutes. Allow cookies to cool on pans for about 5 minutes, then transfer to cooking rack to cool completely.

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