Friday, December 30, 2011

What to do...what to do...

The DVD Dilemma...SOLVED!

It seems that every year after Christmas I am itching to organize every aspect of my life.  Could it be due to the stacks and stacks of new "things" that we seem to accrue over the holiday?  Perhaps.  Could it be a bit of my obsessive compulsive nature coming out?  I can neither confirm, nor deny that THAT has anything to do with it (snort). 

Several months ago when I decided it would be a good idea to refinish our, then, media cabinet and move it to the Dining Room, I was left with these lovely boxes filled with DVDs. 

It wasn't the most efficient way to store our DVDs...nor was it easy to locate a movie to watch.  More often than not, we would end up with a HUGE pile of DVDs strewn all over the floor in an effort to locate the last Mission Impossible movie or Monsters, Inc...or whatever else was stored at the BOTTOM of the box (never the ones on top...no, no, no, THAT would be to easy). 

Mr. AKM must have got tired of watching me twitch anytime someone would want to watch a movie (I'm sure I've mentioned before that I am an obsessive a bit of a neat freak) so he put a little something special under the tree for me this year...

For those of us with Major OCD issues when it comes to organization, these are like crack!  I squealed with delight when I found these wrapped up for me.  Each sleeve holds TWO DVDs!  Sa-wooon!  I. AM. IN. LOVE!  After working on these for two days...a total of maybe 3 hours tops, this is what I am left with.



ROCK ON!  Is that not awesome?  Seriously people look at how cool that is!  I went from two boxes overflowing with DVDs to one little basket...and I STILL have room left over to add more!  AWESOME-SAUCE! 

I used a total of 3 1/2 boxes of DVD sleeves to finish the job.  Holy Crap that is a lot of DVDs!  I had some issues deciding on how I wanted to divide the DVDs up.  Do I do it by kids/adult/family/drama...blah blah blah or alphabetically?  In the end, I decided that alphabetically would be the easiest route when it comes to looking for a movie to watch.  Sooo...I pulled out some envelopes that I had and stuck a label on top with the corresponding alphabet.  Totally simple!  You can even use some cardstock or old file folders to make dividers.  Whatever works for you!

Take a look at how neat and tidy this basket looks sitting on the shelves in my living room now...


Just looking at it makes me happy all over again!  Now I need to figure out what I can store in that other basket...

So what projects do you like to tackle after Christmas?  Are you all into getting organized or are you the type to stuff it all in a box and wait until next Christmas to get motivated?

Linking up to the following parties...go check them out

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Blessings

From our house to yours...


Wishing you the merriest of Christmas'!  May your stockings be filled with all that you wish for!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Inspriation...

Where do you find it?


Personally, this is all the inspiration that I need to paint EVERYTHING with chalkboard paint!  What about you?

Monday, December 19, 2011

The True Gift is in the Giving

Bringing Warmth to the Season...



A random fact about me:  I am usually always cold.

It's true, I can remember as a little kid being cold a lot.  My mom always thought it was because I was so skinny…but even now, 20 lbs. later, I am STILL always cold!  See mom…it wasn’t cause I was “skin and bones”!    Even as I sit here typing this, I have my little foot heater running to warm my toes…and it is 73 degrees outside!  

I don't like to be cold and try to avoid it at all costs yet my dream is to live in Colorado.  Go figure!?

Anyway...I think because I am cold so much, I LOVE hot drinks.  Coffee…tea…hot cocoa.  I love it all!  Especially during the holidays when EVERYTHING tastes better with peppermint!

I found this recipe written down on a piece of paper in my recipe book so I thought I would give it a try…but it made SO much that I then decided I needed to share it (in an effort to NOT drink it all myself…see above mention of 20 lbs)!  It is the Perfect Hot Cocoa in my opinion!  It's even better with a whole bunch of whip cream, mmm....mmm...good.  So go make yourself some and curl up in favorite armchair and try to stay warm.  After all, its 73 degrees here!

Peppermint Hot Cocoa

6 1/2 cups powdered milk
1 - 5 oz. package of non-instant chocolate pudding mix
1 c. powdered chocolate drink mix - such as Carnation
1/2 c. powdered sugar
1/2 c. powdered creamer - I used Peppermint Mocha Creamer
3/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

Mix all ingredients together and pour into containers for gifting.  Top with crushed mints or chocolate chips.  I had some Andes Peppermint Baking Pieces so I topped mine off with those! 

Top with a cute little gift tag with a note explaining how to make them:   Add 1/3 cup cocoa mix to a cup of steaming hot milk...add marshmellows and Enjoy!

Recipe slightly adapted from Allrecipes.com

Friday, December 16, 2011

Lets get crafty...

This year for Christmas I we decided that all gifts given would be of the homemade persuasion.  We were only allowed to use items that we had on hand.  Period...no ifs, ands or buts!!  Mama was SERIOUS!  Do you know how creative one has to be when coming up with things to make for people out of ONLY things that we have in our possession WITHOUT spending any money?  Seriously people...this was crazy...like crazy-town kinda crazy!  There was some running around...some digging through old boxes...the attic got involved...some hairs got pulled out...a few bottles of wine disappeared...some things even crawled out from under beds to get all caught up in the excitement. 

In the end, I realized that I needed to enlist some help.  The first project on my list was for my youngest nieces.  They wear these cutesy little hair ribbons all the time.  You know the ones.  They look like all different colored corkscrews and are attached to little hair clips or barrettes.  SO CUTE!  I tried putting them in my own hair a time or two but I just got strange looks...stares even.  Apparently it is not "cute" when a thirty-something year old wears hair bows.  Who knew? 

Anyway...back to the project.  Since they have so many hair ribbons, I decided they needed some place equally as cute as they are to display them on.  I'm such and Awesome Aunt aren't I?  I had practically everything I needed...I only lacked a "few" items...fabric...batting...ribbon...I know what your thinking...what did I have, right?  Don't judge me!  I had the frame, wood, paint, staples and hot glue sticks, wait, scratch that, I had to snag some of those from my mom too.  Well, at least I HAD the idea!  Gosh people...don't be so judgemental :)   Besides, I wanted it to match their bedroom!  So after I appropriated the items that I needed...the project was off and running! 

(Disclaimer:  Please excuse the bad lighting in the following photos as the light dissappears from my world around 4:30 these days and most of my projects happen well after that time).


Isn't it cute!  It doesn't have to be used for hair ribbons....it can be used to put notes or pictures on.  Anything really!  I wish I had some hair ribbons to put on it to show case my AWESOME idea...but since I was laughed at for wearing mine, I have since gotten rid of them :)

So how did I do it you ask?  Well, let me just show you!  I had the frame.  I found some fire engine red spray paint from (I don't know what project).  I primed the frame in Krylon Primer Gray spray paint. Only one coat was needed...then I lightly sprayed on about 3 coats of the red...then I,


So totally EASY!  Anyone can do this!  From start to finish this project took all of about an hour!  I say that is pretty dad-gum awesome myself! 

What do you think?  Think my nieces will love it as much as I do?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Family Traditions...

Rollin' in the Dough!

Gee...would'nt that be nice if we really were rollin' in the dough?  As in raking in the big bucks...just stacks and stacks of cash as far as the eyes could see.  I know money doesn't necessary "buy" happiness but is sure could help to make life a little more happier.  I'm just sayin' is all.   I mean how unhappy could one be with the ability to purchase that brand new (to me), completely re-furbished 1967 Chevrolette Convertible Corvette in Candy Apple Red?   Seriously now...if I could drive one of those every day with the top down and my hair blowing in the wind I'd find it pretty hard to NOT have a smile on my face.

But that is a whole other kind of dough than the one I'm talking about today.  Today, I shall share my grandmothers famous Tea Cake Cookie recipe.  My mom and I make these every year at Christmas Time.  They are seriously addictive...not to sweet but JUST right.  I love to eat them with a tall glass of ice cold milk...or a hot cup of coffee...or tea...or because I saw them sitting there and my hand just gravitated towards them.  It doesn't matter if I just ate a 9 course meal.  If I see these, I MUST eat six one.



Don't they just becon to you?  You know that they do.  You wanna just reach in and grab one doncha?  It's ok.  I won't laugh if you tried to pull it off the screen.  I wish this screen had a scratch-n-sniff application for you to upload.  Just imagine the smell of the most divine sugar cookie-esque smell EVER and then double that.  YUM! 

This year, we deciced to let all the grandkids (my nieces, nephews and boys) make and decorate the cookies.  This was a test of wills for me as I am a obsessive freak bit obsessive with making perfect cookies.  But I do believe that they pulled off some pretty awesome master pieces if I do say so myself (and I do say so!).

It starts like this...

Measure out all your ingredients...like DUH!


Mix it all up in your candy apple red Kitchen Aid mixer (ooh la laaaa).

This step is the most important of all...sample your batter.  I mean, you HAVE to make sure it tastes good after all before you turn it into cookies.  Geesh!


Then roll out the dough to 1/4" thickness. 


Then you grab all the little hands you have to start cutting out the dough into fun Christmas Shapes.


After the shapes are cut out and on cookie sheets, put them in the oven to bake for 12ish minutes (or until they are a light golden brown).  If you were smart you'd take a picture of this step for people to see what they are suppossed to look like...but I did not experience one of those smart moments.  I will blame it on the chaos involved with having seven children helping in the kitchen.  That's my story and I'm STICKING TO IT!

While they are baking whip up a batch of the tea cake cookie icing...make it any color you wish...then let the little ones go to town decorating them.  With any luck, they will look like this when the are all finished.



Santa would be so proud to see those waiting for him Christmas Morning with an ice cold glass of milk, don't you agree?  HECK Yeah he would!  Now go get your rolling pin out and start Rollin' in the Dough!

Do you have a special cookie recipe that you love to bake during the holidays?  If so, I'd love to hear about it!


Tea Cake Cookies:

1 cup crisco or butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
4 1/2 cups flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon butter flavoring (optional)
Oven 350 degrees

Cream shortening and sugar together.  Add eggs and vanilla - mix well. 
Combine dry ingredients in separate bowl.
Add dry ingredients and mix well.
Roll dough on floured surface 1/4" thick, use cookie cutters to cut shapes
Bake on ungreased cookie sheet for 12 minutes or until light golden brown. 

Tea Cake Icing:

1/2 stick butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 tablespoons milk

Use whisk attachment and beat the butter and powdered sugar until smooth and well blended.
Add vanilla.  Add milk one tablespoon at a time until desired consistency.

Linking up to the following parties...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Mixing it up...

Family Style!



We have a tradition in my family at Christmas Time.  Well, I call it a tradition but its more like an ADDICTION!  You see, my mom has this problem.  She believes that every room in her house MUST have a Christmas Tree...and each tree has to have it's own "theme" if you will.  And because she has so many grandkids (seven, but whose counting...) she feels that they too deserve to have a tree at her house.  I mean why not, Right? 

So every year we get all the grandkids together at "The Meme's" house to decorate the kids tree.  This year I decided to mix it up a bit and incorporate some baking into the chaos fun.  And since all kids like anything on a stick I thought that cake pops would be a good messy choice. 

Its starts off easy enough with a simple sheet cake...


Nothing fancy...just a plain white cake of your choosing.  Then the fun begins...just dive right in and crumble it on up with your hands. 


My hands look a little like birds feet to me (on the right there)....I'm just saying.

Once its all crumbled up dump it in a bowl and mix in some of your favorite icing.  This can be homemade or straight from a can.  I choose the can option.


Yummmm...


Mix it up till all the crumbs hold together and its kinda sticky....fun!  Have I ever mentioned that I can't stand sticky fingers?  I seriously can not...it's almost like a phobia.  I hate it just about as much as I hate handling raw chicken.  EWWWW!  Just the thought of it grosses me out!  In light of this phobia of mine, the following was a true labor of love for me - Rolling the stuff into balls...(insert body wiggle here a.k.a the willies dance).


Just looking at this photo gives me the willies...



Macey seemed to like getting her hands all dirty and sticky though :)





I put this in cuz I love Macey peeking in...I didn't even know she was there :)

After you get all your little cake balls rolled, poke holes into them using your lolipop stick then pop them into the freezer for about an hour so they get firm.  Once they are firm melt some chocolate.  I forgot to take a picture of what I used but it was Wilsons White Chocolate Peppermint discs and Wilsons Milk Chocolate discs.  Both were purchased at Hobby Lobby.


I love the little flecks of the peppermint...not to mention the taste of it.  Anything with peppermint in it is a hit in my recipe book!  YUM-MERS!

First dip the tip of your stick into some chocolate and place it into the hole you made earlier.  And let the dipping begin! 



Bust out every Christmas colored sprinkle you can find...cuz you can NEVER have too many sprinkles!


And shake shake SHAKE it on bay-BEE!


And get all the help you can get doing it!


Then show off your awesome work...


Ain't it pur-dy?  Don't be jealous...you can make some too!  It's easy breezy lemon-squeezy!

So what family traditions does your family participate in every year?  Did you start anything new this year?


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Life's Frosting...

It's the little things that bring such happiness

I can't even begin to articulate the excitement that I felt when I FINALLY hung my new Living Room curtains.  I literally did cartwheels...OK...not REAL cartwheels...but i did some internally.  For just a moment I was 12 again doing flip flops...if only in my mind.  That counts for something though...right?  I swear I was sore then next day from doing them though :)  (not really...I'm not THAT old).



To truly appreciate my excitement, you need to see them before...

Curtains Before
It's not that they are awful...it's just that they did NOTHING for the room.  Absolutely, positively NOTHING.  They were a snore...zzzzzzzzzzz.

I was inspired by Miss Mustard Seed's dining room curtains and so I took the plunge and bought my own fabric!  You Go Girl!  (pats on the back...air high fives).  I followed her tutorial on how to make these totally impressive looking panels to a the "T" with the exception of how I hung them.  Instead of creating a rod pocket, I cheated and used these clips I found at Pottery Barn.


Aren't they cool?  I'm sure you've seen or even used them before but these were a totally new find for me.  I'm so glad I found them...I heart them very much! 

This room is difficult to decorate with all the dark paneling so it was imperative that I find something that would bring an airy, open feel to the room.   (Which would be sooo much easier if Mr. AKM would let me paint the paneling or ...ahem... remove all the paneling.  I'm just say'in is all).

But back to the fabric...I bought the fabric for these babies about 6 months ago here at Fabric.com.  I also found all the fabric for my pillows there too.  I totally fell head over heals, gotta have it now, like RIGHT NOW in love with all the orange and blue!  Aren't they lush-ous?



I decided to make a pillow out of all my fabric scraps to tie the colors together.  Be still my heart!


This room is still a work in progress (i.e. need to convince Mr. AKM that it is OK to rip the paneling from wall, insert dry wall, float said dry wall, texture and paint).  But I think the new curtains are the perfect amount of "frosting" on the cake for now...don't you?

What do you think...should I paint the paneling or go all DIY and demolish it all and start over?  Come on ladies...help a sister out here.  I need all the back up I can to convince the Mister (if you know what I mean).

Linking up to the following fun!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

And the stockings were all hung...

In hopes that St. Nick soon will be here!

19 days and counting!  Christmas is ALMOST here!  Are you as excited as I am? 


I'm not going to bore you with alot of words today.  Just a few photos to peruse...











I love the cozy feeling of sitting in front of a roaring fire with Christmas Stockings hung and toasting marshmellows with my men.  It really brings the joy of the season "home" for me!

You can find this partying in the following places...







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