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Archive for December 2010

Christmas Decorations

I LOVE CHRISTMAS!  The reds and greens and garlands and wreaths and glitter, I love the fact that you can glitter ANYTHING for Christmas and get away with it.  My house is not as decked out as I would like it, but being newlyweds we just don’t have the money to afford all the beautiful decorations that I would love to have, we’ll accumulate it over the next several years.

One of my favorite decorations we have currently is our advent calendar, which I’ve been talking about recently because of our homemade Christmas!

I made my advent calendar last year because those tiny ones just were not what I wanted.  I just used cute decorative lunch bags, chip board numbers, a little glitter, some kitchen twine and Command hooks. Between this and our October engagement party where I glittered lots of spiders and skeletons and pumpkins for an awesome wreath and party decorations, we’re still trying to get the glitter off the floor and everything we own…it’s totally worth it!  Here are a few close ups of the individual days!

There is also the tree, which is of course the focal point.  It’s full of ornaments that mean something to either me or the mister or both of us!  We try to get ornaments from each trip we take, as well as an ornament to remember the year by.  We have a snowtflake for our first Christmas together in 2007, a really sad clear ball with horrible writing on the front and glitter and crystals inside to remember 2008.  We actually have 3 ornaments to remember 2009 by, but it was the year we got engaged, so it was a big year, our Just Engaged ornament, which I still need to put the date on, a cute picture frame with a picture of us playing in the snow, and a bronzed leaf from Mammoth Cave, we bought on the day we got engaged there.  This year we have a bride and groom to commemorate the year we got married, awww, how cute!

I almost forgot about the ball we bought on our honeymoon at Sandals Antigua!

I love having all these decorations out, even though it effects the set up of my living room.  It will make me sad to take it all down at the end of them month!

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Homemade Christmas Day 1

As I mentioned in a previous post, we’re having a homemade Christmas this year.  Using our homemade advent calendar, we give each other a gift every other day.  This year I get my gifts on the even days and the mister gets his on the odd days.  On the first of December I only had 2 gifts finished, so I knew pretty much what I would give him.  Sadly the 2 gifts I had finished were really good ones, so I’ve kind of falsely given him hope for 12 really awesome gifts, but I’ve told him this much.

This magazine wreath was his first gift.

I got the idea from Rag and Bone Boutique.  It was not very difficult to make, just time consuming.  I started off by searching through magazines for colorful pages, it’s much more difficult than I expected.  You roll the pages up from corner to corner, so what you see most in the finished roll is the edge and the majority of the magazines I had had white edged on most of the pages, which would make for a boring wreath.  I used mostly Food Network magazine, which is a really tall and wide magazine, I took additional pages from Southern Bride magazine because it was the same height as the Food Network pages.

Putting Modge Podge in the corner that I wanted to be the tip on the outside of the roll, I rolled from opposite corner, using a thin paint brush to roll at a constant diameter….well that’s the idea, it didn’t really happen for me.  Some were really nice and small, some were rather big.  I made 75 rolls, but only ended up using 68.  The bigger your inner the more rolls you’ll need.  You can see the milkiness of the modge podge in the corner.

I used a bowl top to determine my inner circle size.  Then I lined the rolls up around top to get my colors my right and to make sure I had enough rolls.  I used a circle of cardboard to anchor my rolls to with hot glue.  This really isn’t sturdy enough, I need to figure out some other type of reinforcement, but I’m not sure what yet.  I started by gluing 4 on and filling in from there.  I lined the points up at the bottom, because it was one or the other and that seemed to be more noticeable to me than the other edge.

Testing my set up with my red bowl top

Getting started with just a few

I loved the turn out and so did he!  It looks really neat, I can’t wait to see it up on the wall in his office!

He’s also gotten his second gift too which was a book business card holder, pictures and tutorial to come soon!

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Vegetarian Bible

After watching Julie and Julia, which is a really great movie, but Julie was such a whiney, selfish person, I decided that it was a really good idea, and I was going to steal it.  Not to try to get a book deal or even say I did it.  I am a creature of habit, I know what I like and that’s what I eat, I don’t venture too far away the norm.  Several months ago I bought a cookbook entitled Vegetarian Bible because most of the recipes sounded good and we needed more vegetables in our diets, oh and it was on the sale rack at Barnes and Noble.  I had not even cracked this cookbook since I bought it until I decided to do this little experiment.  This cookbook had 74 recipes and I will be attempting to cook them all by next Christmas.

The first recipe I attempted was Pasta Shapes with Pumpkin Sauce.  It sounded interesting and I had 2 pie pumpkins sitting in the kitchen that I hadn’t done anything with.  I started out by crying while I chopped up some really strong onions.  The recipe called for 4 oz, I don’t typically think in ounces so it’s a little over half of an onion or a pile this size.

Melt 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter in a heavy-bottom saucepan over low heat.  Add the onions and a little bit of salt, cover and cook for approximately 25-30 minutes stirring occasionally.

Next comes the hard part, dealing with the pumpkin.  I assume you can use canned pumpkin, however the recipe calls for fresh.  I started out by halving the pumpkin and pulling out the seeds.

The real bear is peeling it.  Typically I cook the pumpkin in the over and the pulp comes right out.  This recipe cooks the pumpkin in a pot on the range.  I quartered half pumpkin and it made it much easier to peel.  Be careful, this is difficult and I can see it being very easy to slice something open or chop something off.

I realize now that I did not use anywhere near the right amount of pumpkin, I misread the recipe!  It calls for 1 lb 12 oz and I only used 12 oz, I can’t imagine using the other pound, it was plenty pumpkiny enough.  I threw the mismeasured pumpkin in the food processor and chopped it until very fine.


That was the tough part of the recipe, the rest is basically just waiting.  You throw the pumpkin in the sauce pan with the onions at the end of their 25 minutes and season with a very small amount of nutmeg.  Let that cook for another 45 minutes, still on low and still stirring occasionally.

After the 45 minutes, I stirred in ¾ cup of skim milk even though the recipe calls for light cream, we’re on a diet after all, 4 tablespoons of parmesan cheese and 1 tablespoon of parsley, season to taste with salt and pepper.

Sometime during all this I boiled my pasta, I used cellentani, simply because that is what we had, any type works.  We put 2 large spoonfuls over a bowl of pasta and grated a little bit of parmesan cheese over top.  It was surprisingly good, but was still missing something.  We added a little bit of mozzarella cheese, which made it better, but it was still missing something.  We decided it was meat, we’re not vegetarians, just cooking from the book, so bacon was added.  Jeremy really liked it then, but I thought the bacon was not the right additive.  Maybe some turkey…I have tons left, I might have to try that later!

Thanks for reading my first recipe!  I’ll be back next week with the second installment, Garlic Spaghetti!  I’ll leave you with the actual recipe.

Ingredients

4 tbsp unsalted butter

4 oz/115g white onions or shallots, finely chopped

1 lb 12 oz/800g pumpkin, unprepared weight

Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

12 oz/350g dried penne or radiatore

Generous ¾ cup light cream

4 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Salt and pepper

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom saucepan over low heat.  Add the onions, sprinkle with a little salt, cover, and cook, stirring frequently, for 25-30 minutes.

Scoop out and discard the seeds from the pumpkin.  Peel and finely chop the flesh.  Tip the pumpkin into the saucepan and season to taste with nutmeg.  Cover and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil.  Add the pasta, return to a boil, and cook for 8-10 minutes, or until tender but still firm to the bite.  Drain thoroughly, reserving about 2/3 cup of the cooking liquid.

Stir the cream, grated parmesan cheese, and parsley into the pumpkin sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper.  If the misture seems a little too thick, add some or all of the reserved cooking liquid and stir.  Tip in the pasta and toss for 1 minute.  Serve immediately, with extra parmesan cheese for sprinkling.

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