Santa Hats

I made some little individual cheesecakes for a Ugly Christmas Sweater Party we were going to.

I needed something to decorate the top and decided to pipe some Santa Hats with chocolate.

Things you need... 
: red chocolate chips
: white chocolate chips (mine were mint flavoured)
: 2 piping bags
: I used a number 2 and 3 piping tip
: parchment paper on a cookie sheet
: pot of boiling water 
: a metal bowl to melt chocolate

The possibilites are endless...
santa hats/snowflakes/holly...


Thanksgiving Turkey

So I've emailed out these instructions a few time to friends and family and decided I'd just post it as well...  

You'll want to buy your turkey at least 4 days ahead and let it defrost in the refrigerator 3 days prior to preparing it for the brine.
Brine, Bags and Cider are all at Williams and Sonoma (but that's more convenience... I'm sure you can get bags and cider anywhere that would work)
Prepare Brine.
You'll need a baster... a meat thermometer... and a bbq brush.
Rinse turkey and pat dry before adding to brine.
Refrigerate for 36 hours... or max. time.
On the day of cooking, rinse turkey completely of Brine (inside and out) and pat dry again.

A couple days before cube a loaf (or two) of French Bread and let stand out and dry on cookie sheets for the next couple of days until good and dry.

The night before...
Dice celery (depending on how much your making... start at at least 5), onion (at least 1 large), and a package of mushrooms.
Sautee the celery and onion together (in butter) once they begin to soften you can add mushrooms
or cook mushrooms separately (I like for the mushrooms to be nice and brown and I don't want to worry about over browning the onions and celery)
(this is probably my favourite part... I love love love the smell of all of this sauteeing... it totally makes me feel so festive!)
Cook a pack of thick-cut smoked bacon (I slice it while it's still raw and then cook).
Bag everything and put in the fridge for the morning.

- I pre-cut the carrots, and celery for the gravy stock. Bag them and refrigerate. (you'll need to keep the neck (and gizzards if that doesn't make you tummy churn) for the stock too).

The blessed day!
Preheat oven at 350. If you need a guide for cooking, THIS will help you out.
In a giant bowl... mix the bread, sauteed celery, onion and mushrooms and bacon. Add butter, salt and pepper to taste (and taste it... it's all cooked so the best way to know that it has all the flavor
you want is to taste and add what's missing).
After the turkey is pat dry you'll want to loosely add stuffing to the neck and chest cavity.
Use turkey twine to tie legs together to close off the stuffing in the chest cavity and use pins to secure skin over the stuffing in the neck.
Rub the entire turkey in butter and generously salt and pepper. (I set a little bowl of melted butter aside for basting later).
Spray the entire roasting rack with non-stick spray (just makes cleaning easier later)
In the bottom of the pan throw the coarsely chopped carrots and celery in, add 5-6 whole cloves of garlic, add turkey neck and gizzards, and add chicken stock (I think I used about 2 Cups and then
added another cup or so of water (if while cooking it starts to get a little dry just add water).
Put in oven uncovered...
I alternate basting the turkey with the pan drippings and brushing with butter every 1/2 hour while cooking... if it starts to get too brown loosely cover with tin foil.
When turkey is getting close (5-10 degrees) to being done I quickly remove the stuffing and add it to the remaining stuffing in a casserole dish and finish cooking.
When turkey is done... remove from the oven... remove from the roasting pan (I leave it on the roasting rack), cover and let rest for 20 min.
In the mean time finish cooking stuffing and prepare gravy


Gravy : I cook it right in the roasting pan on the stove top... first give it a good stir and then strain out all the chunks of vegetables and meat (I just use a slotted spoon).
Depending on how much butter you used to baste, check the grease... you may need to separate a little.

The only thing I do after that is make a water/flour mixture and slowly stir it in to the pan until I have the consistency I want.
Salt and pepper to taste. 

I hope this is clear... I'm a fly by the seat of my pants kinda girl when I cook, so writing it out has its challenges.  
If you have any questions, totally ask... I won't bite!


Team Probst

Had the good fortune of taking this super cute family's pictures when we visited them...
I really love these guys.

I should note that I do have one of the little miss smiling w/ her Mama,
but this one is just so darn funny.

Had to throw a few of Swiss and my little photo shoot...
She had these super cute new boots and we decided to snap some pictures.



Halloween is up and running around here.
We picked out pumpkins yesterday/
played ghoulish music/
decorated the house/
and the kids wore new festive jammies to bed.
I ho hummed about how to decorate the shelf this year
when I came across an image with a mantle covered in pumpkins.
It was definitely more refined than I wanted (I have pipsqueaks around)
but it gave me a great starting point.

Me and my partner in crime (Miss Mags)
wandered over to the nearest thrift store for inspiration.

I started collecting single and coupled candlestick holders.
(watching Mags mimic me by leaning back, squinting, and putting her finger to her lips was priceless)
I decided we'd just spray paint them all to match and those could hold little pumpkins.
I washed all the candlesticks, and let them completely dry.
I first used a primer spray paint and then a flat indoor/outdoor spray paint.
Super easy.

My partner worked on her letters while I spray painted.

I decided to throw some candles in there too.
And the cute print came from here thanks to Whitney's spry eye.

The other nice thing...
the shelf will be an easy transition from Halloween to Thanksgiving.

Here's some of our other decorations for the holiday
I seriously bought these Halloween silhouettes 5 years ago.
We were poor and I wanted decorations,
so I went to my local craft store...
bought them at 25 cents a piece...
painted them black...
and they've kind of grown on me over the years.
Just an easy/cute/cheap solution.



Did anyone watch this last night?
I. Love. It.
The random singing... easily my fav.
I thank you Zooey,
for I am now looking forward to winter with you by my side.


A Senior...

A few months back I had a girl's day in the city with the "C" sisters.
"A" started talking about starting her senior year and how she had to get photos taken.
I quickly piped up that I'd take them for her and save her the money of hiring someone...
worst case scenario: she hated them and ended up paying someone in the end.
All the "C" girls came along for the fun of it and we had a great evening.

"A" made it pretty impossible to not get a great shot, she's so super cute.


I sure love and admire that "C" family.


Independence Day.

Hope everyone had a great 4th of July...
great friends + good food = we sure did.

Cake idea came from here
Cake recipe came from here
Icing recipe came from here

* one recipe makes enough for two 8 in. round pans... it measures a total of 6 C. *
* I added fresh lemon zest to the icing and about 1/3 c of heavy whipping cream *
* I also took out 3 tsp. of vanilla... I didn't like how brown it made the icing *


The Bed.

In 8 1/2 years of marriage...
Joel and I have never had a headboard or footboard.
There's no question that the thought
"We'll get real furniture when we own a home"
has played a huge factor.

It's just taking a while.

and I think we still feel that way...
but it was time to do something.

we bought an old solid wood headboard and footboard on craigslist for pennies.
Sanded it down,
and gave it a fresh coat of pale blue paint.
(when I say we... I mostly mean Joel)

I bought some pretty cheap bedding from Target and gave it my own little twist.
(I glued fabric button covers to all the buttons on the bedding)

We've had the same nightstands for probably six years from Ikea...
Since I still don't want to buy furniture for a room we don't own,
I just changed out the knobs.

I got these knobs from Anthropologie.

here's the result.
Does it make me happy and encourage bedtime?
Yes siree.

I still have to hang all my copper frames and such,
but maybe when it's all done I'll give the whole room a shout out.


A Good Deal...

... I love one.

I've had my eye on these towels for awhile now.
But since they were for my "most frequented" bathroom,
I didn't appreciate the price considering how quickly they could deteriorate.

The other day while rummaging around in World Market,
I came across these towels...

Um hello...
no brainer...
Now people can wash and dry their hands at their pleasure without a sign that says
"Please lightly tap front and back of hand on towel, Sincerely... your Cheapskate hostess".

Puts a smile on my face.


I'll take the "half the price (and change)" ones thank-you.


It's been awhile...

... but this was unavoidable.

What is going on here?
She's breaking... I mean... "B"-reaking my heart...

Is this even the same person?

and who wore this perfection on Oprah last year?

Somehow there's been some de-railing...
let's get this train back on the tracks.


Hair Pretties

While watching Conference this past weekend,
I kept my hands busy and my eyes open by making a truckload of pretties.

It was heaven to be able to listen to all of Conference over the weekend...
Last year I was quite dozy...

What's better than feeling spiritually uplifted and accomplished at the same time?



About a month ago I'd seen these letters in my spring Pottery Barn catalog.
but not $79 cute.
Roll forward 3 weeks...
A very creative and talented friend of mine made this wreath with moss.
Suddenly I remembered the letters I'd seen and I was inspired.

$3.99 for the wooden letter
$4.99 for the moss (don't even get me started on the stink)
some hot glue
random ribbon and flowers I had laying around...

Not bad for a spring door hanging...
it'll definitely do in pinch.


Books = Must Haves

I love collecting hardcovers...
none of that Kindle nonsense...
I want a library stacked to the roof one day.

These books will definitely be joining that goal.


J.Crew and Crystal Renn

I loved opening up my J.Crew catalog and finding Crystal Renn modeling the swimwear.
Made me happy.

I admire her message and that she refuses to conform to any kind of label
whether it be bone thin, plus-size, or the new medium-size she's currently being categorized as.
Good job J.Crew... I think the ads are perfection.


Homemade Oreos.

Oreo Cookies

2 Devil's Food Cake Mix (Chocolate with pudding in the mix)
I use Betty Crocker
4 Large Eggs
1 C. Vegetable Oil

First crack eggs in the mixer and start beating... add oil... then slowly add cake mixes.
Mix all together for about a minute.
Roll batter into balls (I use a 1 1/2 inch ice cream scoop to measure)
Bake at 350 for 8-9 min. (I do 8 min.)

1 8oz. Cream Cheese
2 1/4 C. Icing Sugar
2 tbsp. Butter (softened)
2 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract

We quite like these cookies around these parts...
I made some yesterday for a lady in our ward who just had a baby boy (hence the blue icing),
but they are such an easy choice for any kind of occasion...
Christmas time I add crushed candy canes to the icing
In the Fall I did a vanilla cookie with orange icing
... lots of options.

One warning...
I've yet to witness a child eating these without an all around gooey mess to follow.


4 Thoughts...

Cate Blanchett
Givenchy Couture

Favourite... hands down... loved everything about it.

Michelle Williams

Redemption is hers...
let's put that Valentino dress from the Golden Globes in the past where it belongs.

Mandy Moore
Monique Lhuillier

The best I've seen her...

Nicole Kidman
Christian Dior

I don't know why...
but I had convinced myself that she would where something from Valentino's Spring line...
what happened?

I so wish she had...