Pretend I Posted this 4 Days Ago...

Wednesday, December 29, 2010




Inspired by this card from 1963:



Hope it was a grand Christmas and that you all have a lovely New Year! xo

Amaretto Cake

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

This is my gift to you, this recipe.

These photos are no gift. But the cake itself may be a good gift to a special someone...be it your grandma, uncle, dear-friend-you-only-see-at-Christmas. It would also make a nice hostess gift perhaps?



It's DEE-LISH!

A sweet friend I used to work with gave me this recipe several years ago. It's easy to do and yields an extremely tasty result...what could be better? Plus, anything with almond extract is usually a winner in my book.


{look at that pretty amaretto...mmmm.}

Amaretto Cake

1 package yellow cake mix
1 3.5 oz package vanilla instant pudding mix
4 eggs
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup amaretto
1 teaspoon almond extract

(glaze/sauce/topping):
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup amaretto
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, oil, water, amaretto, and almond extract in mixing bowl; beat on low speed until dry ingredients are incorporated. Increase speed to medium and beat 4 minutes. Pour batter in prepared bundt pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour or until wooden toothpick comes out clean. Cool cake in pan 10-15 minutes; remove from pan and cool completely.



Combine sugar, 1/4 cup water, and butter in small saucepan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, and gently boil 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cool 15 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup amaretto and 1/2 teaspoon almond extract. Punch holes in top of cake with a wooden pick (I used a straw). Slowly spoon glaze on the top, allowing it to absorb into cake.


{I dont know why some of the butter was on the top like that, but it still tasted right! Also sad that the finished product photo is the worst of all of them, especially since it's the one that's supposed to really convince you to make the thing. Fail by me. Sorry.}

The green plate that the cake is on was $1.50 from Kroger...I always love to take a plate I don't need back!


ENJOY!

Merry Christmas!

you know you're an adult when...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

...your dream-world/lottery-winner Christmas list includes some magically installed recessed lighting:


{here}


{here}

or an Electrolux vacuum akin to this one:



Fantasyland, my friends. Adult dream-time going on above.

[Btw, my parents have one of those Electrolux vacuums and let me tell you...if I ever want to REALLY vacuum (which is every time I actually get out the vacuum aka not too often), I will drive over and borrow it. It vacuums MOUNTAINS/WORLDS/GALAXIES better than the Dyson we bought right after we got married.]

But, I guess things haven't gotten completely out of control.

I would love this Beatles print too:



Being an adult isn't so bad.


What adult-y things do you want from Santa Claus? Corningware? A good drill? Lay it on me...I'm right there with you!

Cookie Load

Monday, December 13, 2010

The title is not "Cookie Overload" because I'm not completely overloaded by cookies. I mean, technically, yes, we've been on cookie overload, but that doesn't mean I'm ready for it to be over. Get it? But I may just overload you with photos here in a minute, so fasten your seatbelts.

Our Sunday School class wives' annual Christmas Cookie Exchange was this past Friday, and this year I had the pleasure of hosting.



This year I made "Dinner Mint Cookies" from BH&G, link here.

They're powdery, like wedding cookies-ish.



You grind up dinner mints in the food processor, stir them into the dough, and then roll the warm cookies in some after baking.



this photo was an attempt to copy Jonny's great cookie photo from last year:



Ummm...kinda...

*A note on the Dinner Mint cookies: they are tasty, yes. BUT they are not my very favorite and nowhere near held a candle to the winners from this year. Their place is most likely at some sort of baby or wedding shower next to the decaf coffee. In that setting, they'd be perfect.

Then the party started. We had so many great savory apps this year. Martha brought this tasty dip:


{wish I'd had the brains to take a pic of the whole savory spread!}

Here is the magnificent cookie "tasting" table:



Fourteen different kinds of cookies to taste! And fourteen different kinds (plus the recipe!) for everyone to take home...The take-home bags:



Variety:



Marthie's cute "Mint Chocolate Check Mates"...



The Dinner Mint cookies, plated and ready:



And yes, those little placards are tiny. I was so proud of myself for making them, and then when Martha and I were cutting and folding them before the party, she was like, "who do you think we are, Keebler elves?" whoops. [They just looked so cute at that size though--I just should've made the font bigger.]

Marth and one of our winners, the other Leslie (who, quite coincidentally, is also married to a Jonathan):



Leslie's "Chai Crescents" won for most unique. Let me tell you, I am dreaming about those cookies at this very moment. (Hopefully will make some soon!)

Our "Best Presentation" winner (for her adorable brown paper packages tied up with string, including postage stamps) there on the left, Laura/Eve, along with Lauren, Shellie, and Meredith (thanks for the dip, M!):



The only pic I got of the Cookie Queen of 2010, aka Best Overall winner, aka Mandi Burke, aka My Hero was with full flash and I'm pretty sure she would hate me forever if I posted the picture I have. {Darned overhead lighting didn't give me enough for sans flash.}

Mandi's Iced Eggnog Cookies broke everyone's heart with their goodness, and handed her the prize.

This is a terrible photo, but I want you to get an idea of the tasting plates in their enormity of task:



Thanks to everyone who was able to come! We had a great time and walked away with some wonderful recipes (and quite a few extra calories)!

............................................

The very next day, on Saturday, I picked up Shauna and her friend B and they came over to make...what else?...cookies!



These are (probably) my very favorite frosted sugar cookies, aka Mrs Debbie E's "Decorator's Dream Cookies."

They are indeed dreamy in their tastiness.







Peace, yall.



Happy Cookie-ing this Christmas!

Christmas Ornaments

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

I love the way my mom “did” Christmas ornaments.


(you’re welcome for this photo by the way…this is circa kindergarten/1st grade)

Every Christmas Eve, we got to open one present: our ornament for that year. All three of us (Martha, Scott, and I) got our very own ornament to be added to the tree Christmas Eve.

Our mom would put the date on the ornament (she loves to date everything), and the ornament itself would usually have something to do with what we’d been up to that year... in the fourth grade, I bought myself gerbils (and now cringe at the thought of them, GROSS!, but that’s another story), so my ornament that Christmas was a little mouse/gerbil-y guy running around one of those metal wheels. Martha would get a ballet dancer, Scott would get a football bear or something the year he started playing football.

Sidebar: we usually took down our tree the morning of December 26th (and one year, it was Christmas Night itself). My dad always worried over the fire hazard of a live tree (and the mess, let’s be honest), so as soon as the presents had been unwrapped & Christmas dinner had been eaten, taking down the tree was fair game. The Leslie & Jonathan tree stays up until New Years! Take that!

So, when the Guinn family would take down the tree, all three of us had a shoebox with our name on the top, that housed “our” ornaments. And the next year, when we’d decorate the tree, we were responsible for putting up “our” ornaments.

I just love this. When we got married, my mom gave me the “Leslie” box, and it’s been such a treasure to use some of these ornaments on Jonathan’s & my Christmas tree. [And I’m happy to say she’s continued this tradition with her sons-in-law!]

It’s so fun to have a growing collection of these special ornaments and I cannot wait to do the same thing for my kids one day.

My granny always said she loved the look of a “homemade” Christmas tree that didn’t all match. Me too!

Thanks, Mom, for this wonderful Christmas tradition.

p.s. Hey oldest children: one of my favorite ways to taunt Martha while decorating the tree was to constantly point out how many more "Baby's First Christmas" ornaments there were for me than her. I beat her like 7-1. Bam.

Glitterphobe

Thursday, December 02, 2010

This may or may not come as a shock to you. {When I told Mandi about it the other night, she was a little surprised at my strong feelings, and urged me to post about such.}

I hate glitter.


(these inspiring photos are from this post, via the lovely Twig & Thistle blog.)

Sure, it's beautiful. These photographs are pretty, this craft project is probably wonderful and fun.

And simply looking at this picture does not give me hives, I kind of enjoy it (from the safety of my computer screen). I like sparkle just as much as anyone.



But if this were in my home, it would need to be in a clear, sealed acrylic box to make it through the door.

I do not want to touch it, I do not want its debris in my house, on my clothes, in my purse, on my face when I don't know it (!!!), molting from paper, nothin'. A mail nightmare (and perhaps the only) is opening an invitation or card of some sort and having glitter pour out, catching me off-guard.

I'm not saying it shouldn't exist. Simply, I don't want it to touch me or any of my things. It's difficult to clean up, and you never know what surface it's perpetrated (the light can play tricks...and sometimes you can't see it).

Christmastime makes this especially tough.



Case in point: on Monday night, Mandi and I were walking into the sanctuary at a local church where we attend BSF. They had just decorated the space for Christmas, with trees and glittery garlands all over the stage at the front of the auditorium.

As we went to sit down about six rows back, I noticed glitter on the seat and the floor. WHAT TO DO! And, maybe just as importantly to prove my point, HOW did the offensive glitter make its way approximately 20 yards back from where it presently resided?

This just shows the intrusiveness of glitter's scattering ways. I had to brush off my seat before I'd sit down, and clear space for my bag (no way was it going on the floor).

Is this weird or rational? I'm leaning toward the latter, and I know my husband thanks me for this prediliction {especially one day in the (not-certain) future when we have small children running around, wanting to do glittery craft projects. Sorry, kids, Mama is a glitterphobe}.

You're welcome, dear, and Merry Christmas.

Giving Thanksgiving Its Due

Sunday, November 28, 2010

We love Thanksgiving! Food, football, family (the three fs, I guess)... but mainly food.



Four grocery store trips it took me to find this, the necessary ingredient for "Tony's Spinach," a Guinn family favorite (that has now also become a Jerkins family dinner staple).

My granny found this recipe in some post office employee pamphlet my grandaddy George brought home one holiday season forever ago. Seeing as I have no photo of the finished product, I'll share the recipe with the subsequent (and inevitably blurry) photos closer to Christmas.

The pepper jack Velveeta is crucial. Forgive the processed cheese for this special occasion.

Also made PW's Dinner Rolls, recipe here:



{The method is similar to her Cinnamon Rolls, and thus pretty easy to do.}



So delish, and worth the work.

Here's where things got a little crazy.

You know how I'm kinda weird? And sometimes like to make things harder than necessary? {Remember Pie Week '09?}

I'd committed to bringing a pie to Thanksgiving dinner, along with the rolls and the spinach.

Well, PW had posted her Pumpkin Cream Pie last week (during her pie week)...it looked like a fairly straightforward chilled pie, nothing complicated, with a graham cracker crust.

Hmmm. That seemed too easy.

"I wonder if there is a recipe out there for graham crackers?" I said to myself.

Turns out, there is! Knowing it would be wayyyyy easier to buy ready-made graham crackers (if not even a ready-made graham cracker crust), I nevertheless decided to give this a whirl.

Because if a homemade graham cracker crust was going to take the pumpkin cream pie to the next level, I sure as heck had to know.

Thank you, smitten kitchen.



They didn't have to be pretty since they were going to be ground to a pulp for the crust.



Here's my pie.



And here are some bullet points:

1. The graham cracker recipe may seem intimidating. Don't let it be so. It's a good one to work in while you're doing other cooking because there are rest periods after several of the steps.

2. The crust was DYNAMITE. I am totally serious. It KILLED in crust form. The taste was leagues better than any graham cracker crust I've eaten to date. Which leads me to...

3. The crust outshone the filling. Hear this: the filling was fine...pretty good, even. It just wasn't wonderful. And it needed to be great to keep up with all the incredible-ness going on in the crust.

I have frozen the remaining graham crackers and will put them to use during Christmastime for another, more robust pie filling. {Suggestions?}

Do you still think I'm crazy?

.......................................

Sad to throw away perfectly adorable mini-pumpkins:



But we're moving on to Christmas (!). And, in what I hope is a new Jerkins tradition, we already got our tree (feels early but it's nice!).



(you think that photo is artsy or just bad? I couldn't decide. either way, there's teeth-grinding going on.)


Happy week-after and official start to Christmas.

Stuff

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

[I'm a loser. I started this post on Monday morning. whoops.]

Over the weekend, I went to Garden Ridge in search of a cheap 8x10 area rug for our guest room. My grandma is staying with us this week, and I wanted her to have some cushion for her toes in the mornings.

(Amanda had directed me there after seeing YHL post about their trip to Garden Ridge. Smart.)

I like finding treasures at GR every now and again...but must admit that giving myself a pep talk is necessary before venturing in. Saturday's excursion was no exception. Christmas was in full swing, and people were everywhere.

During the trip, I overheard this comment between a boyfriend/girlfriend-y type couple regarding the following item:

"This would totally make a great conversation piece."




Yeah, it's a toilet paper roll holder. With a hat plunger.

Beyond disturbing.

However, I did find this 8x10 neutral rug for $60 though:



Nothing wrong with cheap + functional.

Saw two of the cutest babies ever on Sunday:



And we've got this whole leaf ocean thing going in our backyard:



TODAY may be the day to plant those violets sitting on the table that we bought 4 weeks ago, if it's not raining.

Allow me a soapbox-y comment before we close this randomness:

What in the WORLD is going on with the whole we're-open-on-Thanksgiving-Day thing?! It started predictably enough with Wal-Mart...then I see MICHAELS is open on Thanksgiving? Is nothing sacred anymore? As a former full-time retail employee, I entreat you LET THESE PEOPLE STAY AT HOME! They've got serious resting up to do before the madness of Black Friday, especially at the big-box stores of insanity. This is a disturbing trend that cannot end well.

Foodstuffs I'm preparing for Thanksgiving are pretty much set. Be back to share afterward (if successful).

Happy Thanksgiving!

Laundry : Officially Done

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

It's been officially done for at least six weeks now (maybe longer). Sorry I'm just now getting around to sharing with you.

Reminder of the before:



During: (more posts during the during here)





After:



We now have a pantry!

Laundry room in old storage closet at the back of our den, doorway to the left of the back door.





Thanks to Robbins Construction for taking care of business on this project. We DIY'd none of what you see. And let me tell you, I am FINE with that and very thankful!

You can run and tell THAT.
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