Thursday, December 12, 2013

Holiday Cookie Exchange Party!

This year I hosted a holiday cookie exchange party for my super fabulous mom's club ladies. How does a cookie exchange party work you may ask?

First, have guests bring enough cookies to be placed on a plate for everyone who has RSVP'd to try one. So if 12 people RSVP, each attendee should bring 12 cookies for each "tasting" plate. Number each plate'll see why later : )

Ask guests to bring 6 of their cookies packaged up for each attendee to take home from the "Cookie Table". Again, if 12 people RSVP, they'll need 12 individual packages of 6 cookies each. I picked up some gold chargers at the dollar store for the ladies to easily carry all their treats home on.

Here's where it gets fun...

Tell everyone to bake their best cookies because there will be voting on Best Taste, Most Unique, Best Looking, and Most Creative Cookies!!!!

I put together some little mani-pedi kits (hand cream, a nail file, a mini bottle of polish, toe separators and a pumice stone) from items I picked up from Ulta during their Black Friday sale and wrapped them up for prizes.

After all those cookies, I kept the rest of the food simple...just a platter of fruit, veggies and dip. For beverages, I served wine and my new favorite holiday punch (you can find the recipe HERE). I also placed a couple small dishes of candy around too for munching.

My contribution was Italian Almond Cookies...hubby's fav! Here's the recipe...

2 pounds almond paste
1 cup all-purpose flour
8 egg whites
2 cups white sugar
2 cups confectioners' sugar
4 cups sliced almonds
1 small jar maraschino cherries, drained and halved

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Use parchment paper to line cookie sheets. 

-Combine in your mixer the almond paste, flour, egg whites, white sugar and confectioners' sugar until well blended. The mixture will be VERY sticky. Place the sliced almonds into a small bowl. Using a floured ice cream scoop, scoop out rounded teaspoonfuls of the dough and drop them into the almonds. Roll until completely coated. Place 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. Top with a halved maraschino cherry in the middle.

-Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on cookie sheets for a few minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely.

The ladies cooked up some delicious cookies! We had a great time and I can't wait to do it again next year : )

Hold your own holiday cookie exchange party with my free printables...

Merry Christmas!


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Yummy Holiday Punch Recipe

This is a super easy, delicious and non-alcoholic holiday punch recipe to whip up for all your holiday get-togethers. Now, under "normal" circumstances, I would have to add a little rum to this recipe to spice it up.... BUT, seeing as how I'm five and a half months preggo, that won't be happening this year.

Here's the recipe...

2 cups cranberry juice cocktail
4 cups prepared lemonade
2 cups orange juice
1/2 (4 ounce) jar maraschino cherries
1/2 (2 liter) bottle ginger ale
1 orange, sliced in rounds

1. In a large punch bowl or drink dispenser, combine cranberry juice cocktail, lemonade, and orange juice. Stir in the maraschino cherries. Refrigerate for 2 hours or more. 

2. When ready to serve, pour in the ginger ale. Garnish each glass with an orange slice.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Santa's Key Poem & FREE Printable

I wish I could say this was an original idea, however it is not. But, I couldn't resist creating one for our home when I saw it on Pinterest.

The poem reads... Dear Santa, This magic key works just for you, please open the door and come on through. Thank you for coming to our house tonight. We are celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Thank you Santa for the gifts you bring. Thank you Lord for everything.

I typed up the poem, added a vintage Santa from Clip Art and printed it out on card stock...the key I found at Micheal's in their $1 bins. I then tied them together using some pretty red ribbon I had laying around and viola! Love. It.

You can make your own using my free printable below.

Merry Christmas

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

BOO! You've Been Ghosted!

This is so fun! We came home yesterday to find this great bag of goodies on our doorstep. We don't know who left it...but I have my suspicions : )

Inside was a tub of cotton candy, a plastic toy dinosaur (as opposed to a real one LOL), a plastic toy giraffe, a toy tractor, and this note...

It read...

BOO! You've Been Ghosted!
Since this is the time for goblins and bats,
Halloween spirits and ghosts and cats,
Weird happenings and witches brew,
These are things I wish for you:

May the only spirit you chance to meet,
Be the spirit of love and friends that are sweet.
May the only goblin that comes your way,
Be the neighborhood phantom, the breeze takes away.

So by tomorrow, pick a friend down the street,
And give them a Halloween treat.
Fill a bag with goodies galore.

You only have today to do this, so hurry.
Leave treats at their door and run in a flurry.
As such wishes move along from friend to friend,
All good wishes go on and never end.

Have a Fraken-tastic Halloween!!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Ultimate Crock Pot Potato Soup

At this time of year there is nothing better than warming up with a little comfort food! Cook up this easy and delicious soup for dinner, or make a batch and freeze it for later. Enjoy...

-1 package of fully cooked crumbled bacon
-2 cups diced onion
-1 cup diced celery
-1/2 cup chopped carrots
-1 can of chicken broth
-2 cups water
-5 large potatoes diced
- 2 tsp. chopped fresh parsley
-Minced garlic to taste
-2 cups half & half
-1 can evaporated milk
-1 cup all-purpose flour

1. Combine all ingredients in the crock-pot, except half & half, evaporated milk, and flour.
2. Cover. Cook on High 7 hours, stirring occasionally.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and half-and-half. Stir into the soup along with the evaporated milk. Cover, and cook on low for another 30 minutes before serving.

Variation: Top individual servings with shredded cheddar cheese.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Bar Keepers Friend Facebook Giveaway


Visit Bar Keepers Friend on Facebook HERE and enter to win a Bar Keepers Friend gift basket by commenting and/or sharing my featured review on their page!

Good Luck : )

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fall Front Porch Decor

I love fall...and I love decorating for fall! The pumpkins, leaves, corn stalks, gourds, all sends me into a tailspin and I go a little crazy. Step on up, take a look around, and enjoy!

Happy Fall!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Bar Keepers Friend: My new best friend


Those that know me (or are regular readers to my blog), know that I'm a cleanaholic. My brother told me that he was once asked by a friend what his sister's house was like. He replied that it's like I'm getting ready for an open house every time he comes over. OK, so I'm a little OCD, or a lot OCD when it comes to keeping a tidy house. So, when I find a new cleaning product that really works, I wanna shout it from the roof tops!

I have this great white porcelain dinnerware that Andy and I received for our wedding...11 years ago. We use them everyday and as you can see from the picture below, they are really starting to show their age.

I love these dishes! They go with everything and I can mix and match other seasonal pieces well with them. We'll have guests over for dinner and I find myself going through the stack of dishes when setting the table and trying to find ones that are "less" scuffed than others. I've tried Ajax to get the scuffs off. I've tried Soft & Scrub to get the scuffs off. Neither worked. Then I read about Bar Keepers Friend. I can not believe the transformation! See for yourself...


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Powder Mills Park Fish Hatchery

This morning we visited the Fish Hatchery at Powder Mills Park. The hatchery was first established in 1933 as a cooperative between the US Bureau of Fisheries and Monroe County. In Winter 2002, the hatchery was closed due to county budget cuts and then re-opened in the Fall of 2003, when the Riedman Foundation partnered with Monroe County to provide funding for staff, maintenance, and capital improvements to the hatchery.

A fun, family friendly and FREE place to visit, the hatchery currently raises some 20,000 Trout, Chinook, Salmon and Perch!


Be sure to bring lots of quarters! You can purchase a handful of fish food for a quarter at machines around the hatchery.

In addition to the hatchery, the park offers several walking and hiking trails, ponds for fishing, a playground, and picnic tables and shelters.

If you go...

Located on Park Road within Powder Mills Park, The Fish Hatchery is open year-round. April 1st-October 31st, the park is open everyday from 7am-11pm. November 1st-March 31st, Monday to Thursday, the park is open 7am-4:00pm.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Easy Summertime Blueberry Cobbler


Last week Logan and I went blueberry picking at G and S Orchards. It was sweltering out, but Logan was a good sport and we picked two pounds of berries ...and he ate probably one pound while we were picking : )

So, what to do with all those blueberries?

Cobbler of course! This recipe is SOOOO easy. Here's what you'll need... 

-9 x 13 inch glass pan 
-1 (18.25 ounce) package of yellow cake mix
-4 cups fresh blueberries
-1/2 cup white sugar
-1/2 cup butter, melted
-1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). 
Mix berries, sugar, and cinnamon in the bottom of your 9 x 13 inch pan. 
Cover berries with DRY cake mix. 
Pour butter over cake mix (do not stir it in!).
Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until light brown and bubbly. 
Serve warm with ice cream.

Super easy and super yummy!!!!!!!!!



Wednesday, July 17, 2013

DIY Wood Sign

The road to our lake house has these tall posts that everyone puts their family name or cottage name on. For years, ours has read " Wm Burgess" husband's grandfather who originally purchased the property in the 1950's. We thought this summer it was time to change it.

I tried my hand out at making a sign for our front hall earlier this spring to test my skills...

I thought it came out pretty well so I was confident in my ability to make one for the at the lake.

Here's how I did it...

1. You'll need to find (old wood from fences or pallets that people are throwing away are great to up-cycle), or you can buy and cut a piece of wood to the size you'd like. Be sure to use pressure treated wood if you plan to hang your sign outside.

2. Paint the wood with your background color. For the lake house sign I chose blue. I prefer two coats of spray paint, but leftover house paint, or paint samples works well too. Allow your sign to dry thoroughly between coats.

3. Using Microsoft Word (or like program) find a font you like, type out what you want to paint on your sign, adjust the sizing of the font to fit your sign and print.

4. Cut out your lettering.

5. Turn the paper over, and with a pencil scribble along the outline of the letters or art.

6. Place the paper on your sign, pencil side down, and trace the letters or art onto your sign with moderate pressure using a pen.The pen will transfer the pencil lead onto your sign, creating a template for you to paint.

7. Paint the lettering or art. I used black Sharpies on my "test" sign I made, but found these awesome paint pens at Michaels for the lake house sign...

8. When you've completed painting in your lettering (two coats), allow the sign to dry overnight.

9. Once dry, I like to rouge up my sign a little bit with a fine grit sand paper to give it an antiqued, weathered look.

10. If your using the sign inside, you're done! If you are hanging it outside, you should coat it with a clear polyurethane to help protect it from the elements.

Here is the paint and poly I used for the lake house sign...


And here is the final product hanging on those posts along the road...

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Around the Yard

Now that the rain has finally subsided, and the yard has dried out from all that rain, and we are now experiencing a heat wave in the northeast (but because of all that glorious rain, the grass hasn't burned out yet!) ...what better time to take a tour of the yard!

I LOVE hydrangeas!!!! They are SO pretty cut and placed in a bouquet. The perfect summertime centerpiece for any occasion. The pretty purple hydrangea above is a rescue plant. Ya' rescue dog or rescue cat, but a rescue plant. It was severely neglected in it's container from the garden store at a friend's house when my husband rescued it and brought it to live at our house. I was able to nurse it back and was so excited when it loved me back and produced the gorgeous purple bloom.

Here are my lovely white hydrangeas...

I'm glad I snapped this photo of my yellow lilies when I did, because the next day the deer ate all the blooms off of it...

Can't wait for these late summer bloomers to show me what they've got. These canna lilies are a bulb that we have to dig out, store for the winter, and replant every year. Well, I guess I should specify the "we" as my husband. They love sun and the more they get, the taller they'll grow. In the next few weeks they will produce beautiful big, full, red flowers.

My hosta...huge and lovely. I'm conflicted about whether to split them or not. I just love how big and full they are.

Here's another beauty the deer got to shortly after it bloomed...

I think the bush below is spirea. We have one on either side of the front porch. It gets these little bright pink flowers on it and gets HUGE. If hubby hacks, I mean trims, it back about now it will usually come back with more blooms.

Here is a tour of some of my containers...

I picked up this salvia at Home Depot last week on clearance for $5 bucks. SCORE!!!

Hope you enjoyed the tour : )

Happy Gardening


Monday, July 15, 2013

Galvanized Tub Turned Outdoor Ottoman

You may recall this galvanized tub from my Summer Lobster Boil post. It looked so much prettier than a cooler to hold beverages in...

I am OBSESSED with this ottoman. I absolutely love it and wanted to do something a little more permanent with it where I could enjoy it more than just when we have guests over for a cookout. I REALLY needed an ottoman for our deck. I saw one at Target a while back that I liked and waited too long for it to go on sale...because when it did, it was g-o-n-e. So, why not turn the galvanized tub into an ottoman? AND..the best part is the top lifts off and I can still use it to hold beverages when needed!

This is how the transformation took place...

First, I laid the tub out upside down on some pressure treated plywood and traced it around so I knew where to cut.

Now, a Jigsaw would have been the ideal tool for the job...but hubby was away and I couldn't find the blades for his. So I improvised using his Sawzall. It was tricky, but it got the job done. When I cut the plywood, I cut inside the line by about a half inch so it would fit nicely into the top of the tub.

At my local craft store, I picked up a piece of 22"x22" 2" thick foam, button covers, and a yard of this gorgeous Waverly Sun Shade outdoor fabric. I cut the foam round to fit on top of the now cut plywood, draped the fabric over it, found my center and sewed on the button now covered with a snippet of the fabric. Next, using a staple gun, I pulled the fabric taut over the foam and stapled it along the underside of the plywood.

I love the way it turned out! : )

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