Thursday, December 22, 2011

And for neighbors, bosses, mother in laws, or anyone that like sweets!

My Christmas preparation marathon is finally coming to an end.  It's been a jam packed week, but I'm always one to enjoy spending time cooking and crafting.

Last up in my "gift" series are these tasty clementine macaroons with a creamy citrus filling.

The cookies are basically meringue so they're light and airy with a delicious crisp.  You can find the recipe here, and some cute labels for packaging them here.

The cookies are very sweet but light enough that they're not cloying or overpowering.  The acid from the citrus also helps mellow the sweetness factor.

They're gluten free, so they're a great dessert for people who cannot eat gluten and may inadvertently be left out of Christmas desserts.

I hope my gift ideas have given you some sort of inspiration for last minute holiday planning.  I have my holiday party at work today... Hello Charlie Palmer!...and then it's off to the Lake and Houston for our various Christmases.  

Whatever holiday you're celebrating, I hope it's filled with happiness and joy.
And from my little family to yours:

Merry Christmas!

Happy Hanukah!

Happy Kwanzaa!

Happy Festivus!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Gifts for the Pups and Christmas Wrapping 2011

 And because we can't forget the furry friends in your life, today we have homemade dog treats.
I pretty much followed the recipe here.  It makes a pretty big batch of dog treats, but I needed to make 2 batches to feed the large number of labs (5) in my life.  I used the gingerbread men for the big dogs and a variety of small Christmas cutouts for the smaller dogs. 

A couple tips, use the lowest sodium you can for all of the ingredients.  Salt isn't great for dogs.  I found some random brand of peanut butter that didn't contain any sodium or sugar.  You're going to blow the salt count on the beef stock and the beef bouillon granules, but try to find the lowest sodium brands you can.  The Swanson brand of beef stock had over 4x the amount of sodium than the brand I ended up buying.
Morale: read the label!

Also, I used demerara sugar (aka Sugar in the Raw) instead of processed white sugar.  I figured natural is always better.

And no Christmas gift is complete without cute packaging!  I found these awesome labels at Creature Comforts (one of  my favorite blogs) and knew they'd be perfect.  I added my own wording and then printed them out on white card stock.  A white paper bag and a raffia bow and they're all set to go!

And finally, if you've been following this blog since last year, you know how much I love Christmas wrapping.  I scheme for a good couple of months about how I want to wrap my gifts.  And although I've used brown craft paper for the last 3 years (I'm not sure I'll ever use anything else), I keep finding little ways to change it up.

This year I attached a silver ribbon to each box.

 Then I created a darker silver tag that reads, "Merry Christmas.  Love, Jason and Summer".
In the center of each tag is a white clay medallion that has Merry Christmas and the person's named stamped onto it.  They're kind of hard to read in the photos, but they are darling in person.

This may be my favorite wrapping scheme ever.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Gifts for Girls and Christmas Decorations!

This post is a smorgasbord of holiday cheer!

Up first, a super easy gift to make for any girl.  This gift has an intended recipient...but I SO want to keep it for myself.  Is that bad?

To make this little bowl you simply roll out a block of clay to about 1/4" thick.  Lay a doily over a section of the bowl and smash it into the clay using a rolling pin.

At this point you can either leave the edges as the are or use something circular to cut out the clay.  Doing this will give you a perfectly circular bowl.  If you want a more organic looking bowl (which I did) you can omit this step. 

Bake your bowl in a 275 degree over for approximately 15 minutes.  Do not over bake.  Check the instructions on your clay to verify the baking time.

The edges will be a little jagged.  Simply sand them down with a fine to medium grit piece of sandpaper or sanding sponge.  (I used both.)

Spray paint with desire paint color.  I used white primer because I wanted a very matte finish.

And in case you're wondering...yes I did carve my initials into the side.

Admire your super cute little bowl.  

And some of the decorations around my house.  This isn't all of them...which made me realize I really do have a ton of decorations.

And is it me or does this one look like a photo from a catalogue?

Jason's one group of decorations...and the only kitschy decorations.  :)

I hope your holiday season is going well and a very Happy Hanukkah to anyone celebrating!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Gifts for Babies

There aren't many (and by many, I mean aren't any) babies in my life.  So when the chance to make something for a baby pops up, I usually jump at the opportunity.  And when the opportunity to make things for twins pops up, I leap at the opportunity.  One of my friends recently became the proud aunt to two darling little girls.  She gets to meet them for the first time over the break, and wanted to make them something special.  I had pinned these darling booties to her a while back, and now was the perfect time to try them.

The pattern, which can be found here, only requires 3 pieces per shoe.  You have to fuse interfacing to every piece except the sole though.  The most time consuming part of this project is cutting out all of the teenie little pieces, and fusing the interfacing.

The assembly is pretty easy.  The instructions are somewhat confusing in the way they're written, so read them a couple times.  And one word of caution, the "right" side of the sole is the suede side not the fuzzy side.  Found that out the hard way and had to rip apart the first shoe on the first try.

 I decided to add the flowers and the crystal, because what little girl doesn't need a little bling?  To make the flowers, I freehand three flowers per shoe and cut them out.  I then folded the flower into fourths  (with the right side facing in) and sewed a couple of tack stitches around the middle.  The idea is to scrunch the flowers in from the center so the petals stand up a little bit.  Then I glued a little crystal to the center using my glue of choice, E300.

I think they add the perfect amount of sweetness to an already darling shoe.

 And just how teenie are they?  Teenie enough to fit in my hand.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Gifts For Friends

I should not be writing this post.  I also should not have wasted my entire day today instead of studying for my last final.  After the nightmare gauntlet that was my previous test, I think I deserved some time off.

My closest group of friends is heading our separate ways for Christmas.  One of us is climbing a mountain.  One of us is heading on a cruise to the Caribbean.  I do not have anything near that exciting planned.  I am very much looking forward to some down time though.  Tonight we decided to have our Christmas dinner to say goodbye and celebrate the season.  I often find it difficult to think of gifts for friends.  It's not because I don't love them; it's just because no one actually needs anything.

So this year I decided on an experience activity for our little group.  There are dozens of small wineries and vineyards scattered around the DFW Metroplex.  I found a small one that's supposed to have some pretty decedent wine and this is the gift I came up with.

And in case you're wondering (because I always do), the font I used is called Lavanderia.  I bought it a couple weeks ago and I love it.  It's a "pay what you want font," but the guy who designed it is a student in San Francisco so if you like the font go purchase it.  It'll make you feel all warm and tingly that you're helping a student and you get an awesome font.  Win-win.
And in case you're wondering, that was not a sales pitch.  I just really like the font.

I made the blue medallions out of salt dough and painted/glittered them.  I like that they gave some substance to the cards.  There are dozens of salt dough recipes all over the internet if you want to make some.  To be honest, I'll probably use clay next time, but I didn't have any on hand and didn't want to venture out into the drizzly weather.  Also, I sanded the edges before painting them because there were a little "rough around the edges".  You know you were missing my bad jokes.

It's a great feeling knowing that sometime in the spring we'll be able to get out of Dallas and spend a little time together.  So if you're struggling for the perfect gift for someone, I greatly recommend planning an excursion of some sort.  

Time to attempt some studying!

Thanks again for all of the support with finals.  It means so much to me!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

4 more days...

...and then I promise to not mention anything law school for at least 1 month.  Until then, this pretty much sums up my life.

I did finally make it out of the library though.  See you tomorrow study room 404.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

YouTube Videos- Law School Edition

The time I waste on the internet increased about 300% during finals.  12 straight hours of studying deserves some good breaks.  And these are my top 3 favorite YouTube videos about law school.

This was written and performed by some fellow SMU law students my first year of law school.  

Pretty much sums up my Friday night.

...because no one likes a gunner.
*This one uses pretty explicit language.  So don't bust it out in front of your grandmother.  Ha.

First seated final tomorrow...Eye of the Tiger Time!

Thanks for all the final love!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Blah, blah, blah...

...finals, finals, finals.

The countdown is on.  I already have one take home final, and my first seated final is on Monday.

I've seen 5:30am more times in the past three weeks than I ever wanted to see in my life.

But I did get my Christmas decorations up (I had to spread it out over 4 days, because I'm spread that thin right now.) So I now get to look at lovely things such as this.  And seriously considering moving my study station to my dining room table, if only to glance longingly at the Christmas lights and dream of freedom in 15 days.

And if you're the law school type, or the school type, or some weirdo who likes to takes tests for fun, good luck!  Off to cram some law into my brain.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Schools out and I'm heading home for a weekend of gluttony and family!  Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, not only because of the delicious food, but also because it reminds me to stop and be thankful for all the blessings in my life.  Sure things can be difficult around here, but all in all, I'm blessed beyond ways that I deserve.

Chalk writing by moi.

So in between the food, the football, and the family time, remember to count your blessing...and eat them too!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Just a little reminder.

Source, maybe.  It's a Tumblr account so who knows.

Have a lovely Thanksgiving!  

Monday, November 21, 2011

A Much Needed Break

My first final is in two weeks from today.  Majorly Slightly panicking about that.  But for some reason I decided that this past weekend was a good time to be lazy.  I'm not sure if it's the short week this week or all of the random activities I had scheduled over the weekend, but I was very unproductive.  I've learned that when your body says you're done.  You're done.  So I tried not to feel too guilty and instead enjoyed a little bit of down time before the gauntlet that is finals.  And I've been getting up at 5:30am to outline for the past week, so that earns me some extra time to sleep and watch excessive amounts of cooking tv, right?  Right.

But the highlight of my weekend was the Margarita Ball on Saturday night.  It's a charity event hosted by the Dallas Margargita Society that involved ball gowns, black ties, dancing, and copious amounts of margaritas.  So I scrubbed off the law school grime, shaved my legs (for once), and tried to act like a normal human being.  Pretty fantastic evening.

And Thanksgiving is this week!  Hope you had a lovely weekend too!

Friday, November 18, 2011

One Month and Counting

Roy Hobbs has been a member of our family for a month!  We've settled into a nice routine, although he and Dolce still bicker, as brothers will do, over toys and treats.  We're very happy we rescued him and are looking forward to many, many more months together.

We love our Roy Hobbs!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Cook Something: Fall Feast

The first chilly day of fall arrived in Texas yesterday.  When the weather gets cold I love to crank up the oven and roast something.  There is something soul satisfying about the smell of something baking in the oven, and it's even better when it's duck.  Duck is one of my absolute favorite meats.  There is nothing quite like crispy, salty duck skin.  Duck intimidates most people because they associate it with fancy French cuisine.   However, it's really very easy.

 I can't remember where I found this recipe for roasted duck, but it honestly could not be more simple.  You liberally salt and pepper a whole duck (inside and outside).  Roast on 250 for 3 hours and then on 350 for an additional hour.  

I also roasted an entire onion in a small ramekin the whole time.  The roasting will break down the onion and make it very soft, almost like applesauce.  Jason wasn't so sure about the entire onion thing, but boy-howdy was it delicious.  I served it with a warm lemon vinaigrette.  Delicious.  You can find the full recipe and instructions here.

And the absolute. best. part. about roasting an entire duck is all of the fat that it will render.  Duck fat is the best.  The absolute best.  I could eat 10 lbs of crispy duck fat potatoes.  Just thinking about it makes my mouth water.  So naturally, I roasted some potatoes with this meal also.  I don't have the pictures of them because they were getting good and crispy while I plate the other parts of the meal, but let me tell you they were sublime. 

Back to the never ending mound of school work.  Have a lovely day all!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Cook Something: Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread

It's 6am and I'm at Starbucks outlining.  With the wrong books.  At the wrong Starbucks.
My study partner's at one Starbucks and I'm at a different one.  Why are there 3 Starbucks in a one mile radius?

Finals are here.

Please excuse me while I freak the eff out.

Every semester I feel like I'll never be able to cram all of that information in my head.  And yet some how I always manage to.  Mostly.

Studying is a good excuse to eat copious amounts of sugary carbs right?  Right.

Cinnamon Pull Apart Bread

This is one of those recipes that looks difficult but in reality is super easy. 

3 cans of biscuits.
3/4 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup of chopped nuts, I use pecans.
1/2 cup melted butter
1 T ground cinnamon

Cut the biscuits into quarters.  Sprinkle half of both sugars in the bottom of a bunt pan.  Pour in half of the melted butter.

Add the remaining sugar and cinnamon to a large gallon sized bag.  Working in batches of 6-8 biscuit quarters, add them to the bag and shake until evenly coated in cinnamon sugar.  Add the coated biscuits to the bunt pan.  Arrange the biscuits in fairly even layers until the pan is mostly filled.  Drizzle with the remaining butter.

Bake at 350 for about 35-40 minutes until the top is golden.  Allow to cool for around 10 minutes and then flip onto a plate.  The biscuits should be caramelized on the outside and pillowy soft and sweet on the inside.  Eat by simply pulling apart the biscuit quarters.

Hello sugar high.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Fifieth Fiesta: The Details

Few things in my life have been as exciting as my mom's 50th Fiesta.  It was a planning and organizational feat, and I'm excited to share some of the details today!
*Warning this is a fairly long and fairly photo intensive post*

All of this stuff had to fit in the truck of my tiny car.  Why the trunk only?  Because there was an 80 lb lab in my backseat and a 10 lb yorkie in the front seat.

The traveling fiesta!

These make me happy all lined up and pretty.

Burning the midnight oil (literally) to get the streamers sewed in time.

Drinks and Sweets Table
Left to right:
Screen Printed Koozies (more on that below)
Galvanized bucket of drinks: Jarritos for the kids and a variety of Mexican beers for the adults.  The bowls in front were for bottles caps and limes.
Margaritas (my favorite recipe) and Sangria
50th Fiesta lemon chiffon cake, made by my fabulous sister!
Behind that are Key Lime cheesecake bites that I made.
The little tiki torch lantern on the table was purchase at some random dollar store for a measly $1 each...hence why I walked out with 8 of them!
Behind the sangria is a bowl of sombrero straws.  Too cute!

A close up of the awesome cake.

The entry stand.  
The top sign read, Welcome to the Fiesta, please grab some festive attire!
The bowls held maracas and beads.
The invitation is on the second shelf.
The sombreros were hung on the top corner and on the third shelf (where the empty space is).
The gifts were below that.
PiƱata stuffed with candy.

We rented three tables and placed them under a canopy of Christmas lights and my sewn streamers.
Those lights would never have been installed or stayed lit without the determination and fearlessness of my brother.  He spent more time on the roof before the party than he did on the ground.

The lanterns are the above mentioned dollar store find.
The tables had paper flowers in spray painted tin cans.
And there were tea candles in mason jars.

The moment of surprise!
...I wish this wasn't so blurry.

brother, me, sister, mom, niece, grandma, aunt

And no party is complete without a seriously goofy photo taking opportunity...

...and a bounce house for the kids!
Also, I'm told my niece looks alot like me.  She feisty like me too.  I so love her.

I didn't get a picture of it, but the food table included a taco bar of carnitas, steak, and chicken tacos; beans and rice; chips and dip; and a trio of homemade salsas.

And finally, the screen printed koozies.  Apparently, the koozie is not as celebrated everywhere as much as it is in Texas.  Weird.  Keeps your drinks cold, keeps your hand warm.  Why doesn't everyone carry them around in their purses?  Because I do. 

So I wanted to give everyone a party favor, but you really can't give a bunch of adults a bag full of candy and cheap toys.  So I came up with the idea to screen print koozies.  I designed the front and Jason came up with the poem on the back.  He's great like that.  My only qualm is that I didn't expose the sombrero correct so it didn't come out perfectly.  I just tell myself it has that faded quality all the cool kids like.

The actual screen printing took about an hour total.  Everyone loved them, and most importantly my mom loved them.  

"We call her Mom. Grandma.  Daughter and More.
On her 50th we'll fiesta like never before!"

 So that's it!  If you have any questions about sourcing or DIY projects, ask away!
Also feel free to check out my Pinterest board for the party!