Excerpts from our holidays

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Lately, I feel like all I have been doing is quilting, quilting and more quilting. Of course I do the occasional house cleaning, laundry, cooking, playing with kids, breaking up fights, calming down crying kids, etc. Oh, and add in all the usual Holiday activities - baking, delivering, shopping, wrapping, parties and visiting - and then after all of those things were done - I totally consumed myself with quilting. (It's theraputic for me o.k.!:) I have been working on a quilt design (that I am hoping to possibly publish one of these days.) The quilt top is done, but while in the midst of piecing that together, I started a new spring applique quilt, inherited a half finished quilt from my sister 'n law, and have been dreaming up other new designs. Oh, and I did a little embroidery project for my sweet friend Lizzy in Colorado for Christmas. I feel like I haven't blogged much the past few weeks, so I thought I'd post just a few pictures of some of the random things we've been doing as a family.

I love when they get along! I think they're just extra happy though because Mom made Rice Krispie Treats. Look, they're giddy!

Starting off the holiday festivities - Our Ward's Primary Christmas Program. So cute, although I was behind the curtain the whole time helping to make sure things ran smoothly. This is a fun tradition in our ward. All the kids have different singing/dancing parts and then of course, (it wouldn't be a children's Christmas party without Santa) so all the kids got a turn to sit on his lap and tell him what they wanted for Christmas. M was terrified of him last year at this party, but I think she regretted her foolish 2 year-old behavior ever since.
This year she was more than ready to tell him she wanted "Play dough." Play dough and a Barbie Princess Notebook was all she wanted. Oh, these are the times to treasure.

Also we, like many of you, were blessed with a beautiful and somewhat constant white sprinkling (or should I say we were dumped on) from the heavens above. This is the view from my front door. Isn't the snow gorgeous!?! I love it!

We've enjoyed sledding and lots of hot chocolate as of late too.
Here is our humble tree.

And, of course our Christmas morning picture on the stairs with the kids in their new pajamas (opened on Christmas Eve, a family tradition from the Davis')

Happy Holidays!

Love, Amber

"Sisters" gift exchange

My Sisters and Sister-in-laws did a little gift exchange this year. Those of us that felt crafty did handmade gifts and those that did not feel crafty, bought lovely items from charming retail establishments:). My sister Tammy, gave me a darling frame that had a little plaque at the top that said "Children" and then at the bottom it said:

"While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about."

I love the frame and quote. That quote really is true. My children enrich my life and make me a better person. I thank God every day for the opportunity to be a mother to two amazing little people! I've been searching my files looking for a very sweet picture to put in that frame - thanks Tams! She also gave me soap and paper that came in beautiful individual Christmas boxes. I love those kinds of things! You know me well!

I got to give to my Sister-in-law, Brittany, so I gave her a replica of a box I had made for myself a couple of years ago. It's meant to organize your family's annual Christmas photo and card/letter. There were dividers with tabs inside for her to write the year on. It was fun to make. I hope she liked it! I actually made two extra ones to sell on Etsy. Those are the only ones I took pictures of so here are some pictures of those. Brityany's was a combination of the two below.

I can't wait to see pictures of the other gifts that were made by my Sisters! If YOU have any handmade gifts you made this Christmas, post a link - I'd love to see them!

Gingersnap Pear Cheesecake

Monday, December 22, 2008

I have had this recipe in my files for quite a while now and finally took the opportunity to try it out over the weekend. I think it is a perfect, new recipe for the holidays, or actually any time of year. I can see it as a nice summer dessert as well. I've never had a cheesecake like it. Biting into the thin slices of pear towards the bottom was a nice, surprising flavor. It's not too heavy and it's a little bit festive. Enjoy!

This photo & recipe come from Real Simple

Gingersnap-Pear Cheesecake

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups crushed gingersnaps (about 40 cookies)
2 small ripe pears (any kind), peeled, cored, and sliced 1/8 inch thick
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
16 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream, at room temperature

Heat oven to 350° F. In a medium bowl, combine the butter and crushed gingersnaps. Press the mixture into a 9-inch springform pan, working the crumbs over the bottom and then up the sides. Bake for 20 minutes. In a small bowl, toss the pears and ginger. Line the cooled crust with the pears, overlapping the slices slightly. In a large bowl, with an electric mixer on medium, beat the cream cheese for 2 minutes. Add 1 cup of the sugar and beat for 2 minutes. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, and mix until combined. Stir in 2 teaspoons of the vanilla. Pour the mixture over the pears. Bake until the top is barely set but still slightly wobbly, about 50 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack but leave oven on. In a small bowl, combine the sour cream and the remaining sugar and vanilla. Pour over the cheesecake and bake for 8 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool to room temperature. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

In Advance: Make the cheesecake and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Slice it just before serving, running the knife under warm water after each cut.

Yield: Makes 8 to 12 servings

Drumroll Please!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Yay! The winner of my apron giveaway is Miss Meghan Simmons! Yay! I am so happy to be able to give it to my dear friend Meghan (of like 20 years or something!?!) Merry Christmas Meghan to you from me! I hope you like the quilted apron (and, oh yeah, I also whipped up a little hot pad the other day to go with it:). Enjoy!) Thanks to the rest of you for entering my giveaway. Hopefully there will be more where that came from in the future.

Apron Giveaway Ends Today!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Today is the last day to win my quilted apron. If you haven't entered yet, but want to, just leave a comment under the post below. The contest ends tonight at midnight. I can't wait to find out who wins! Good luck!

Time for a giveaway!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

O.K. You may be asking why is she doing a giveaway? It's just little ol' me - but I think giveaways are fun so I'm doing one. Simple as that. I've whipped up this little apron. No pattern - just my own design - so for all of you that enter this consider yourselves Guinea pigs (can anyone tell me how to spell that? Spell check isn't helping me out!?!) The fabrics are from Fig Tree, as well as my own stash.

Here are the details:

1. Everyone who leaves a comment on this post will be entered once for the apron giveaway.

2. If you wish to register for an account at Moda's fabric matcher by clicking here then you will get two more entries for the giveaway. By doing that, you and I will be entered into their December contest drawing (click here for more details.) Just leave your fabric matcher username on your original comment that you leave on my blog.

3. If you want three more entries for the apron giveaway then post about it on your blog and leave me a link to your post on your original comment.

* Please only leave one comment on my blog. No cheating:)

That's it. I'll pick one random winner (probably by having one of my kids pick a number out of a hat or something. I don't know how to do the "computer generated" stuff.) This giveaway will end at midnight on Thursday, December 18th. I'll ship it to wherever the winner would like, hopefully getting it there by Christmas. Good luck!

Oh, yeah! Here are the pictures. I almost forgot!

Oh, one final thing. I just want to give a quick shout out to my friend Sabrina for being 14 weeks pregnant, yet a bashful and willing model for these pics. Let's all give her props for her rockin bod:) I have permission to announce that BTW.
O.K. I promise - more info on my "GIVEAWAY" is coming VERY, VERY soon:).

But until then, I just have to vent for a second. Isn't there some kind of etiquette on cell phone use within small, confined public rooms? I just ask because I had to help at Blake's school this morning (exchanging take-home reading books) and there was a lady there that I had seen a week or two ago. I remembered her because she was talking on her cell phone the whole time. Well, today she was doing it again. For 35 minutes I had to listen to her conversation! It was just me and her in this very small room. I was literally about 4 feet away from her and she was just talking away. I was pretty annoyed. What would you do? Is there anyone out there daring enough to actually say something? I know I wouldn't, but I wanted to! By the end of her conversation though, I actually started to get amused. I think it was because she sneezed in the middle of her convo and she said, "Bless me!" Can you bless yourself? I think the phrase is "Bless you" or "excuse me." Oh, I am so mean. I mean, I am totally the queen of mixing up phrases (thus my blog title.) And, I know I am so far from perfect. I know I just should have let it go, cut her some slack maybe, but I knew it was a perfect blog topic:) Anyways, sorry for my venting. Man, I hope I don't have to make a blog category for "ventings"... that would not be good.

In the spirit of giving...

That's all I'm gonna say. I just need to take a picture of this "thing" I just finished and then we're gonna have a little fun. Well, o.k. I'll give you a little hint (see below.) Can you tell what it is? Tomorrow I'll get a better picture...then I'll tell you more.

December Fabric Matcher Contest

Monday, December 8, 2008

Well, I couldn't resist. December's contest at http://moda.fabricmatcher.com is easy. All you have to do is post about their website and put up one of their banners on your blog or website. Easy right? Well, you know I am a big advocate of their contests, so that is not a problem for me to do. So, they're picking two winners this month - one by random drawing and one for who sends over the most referrals. Now, come on - I have been raving about this contest for the last couple months now, right? So, go sign up (like I've been telling you) and you will see what a fun "toy" it is. And, maybe one of us will win a "bakers dozen" - a basket of a variety of moda's favorite things and your blog will be posted on their website. Fun!

Ribbon organization

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Oh my gosh. I am addicted. I keep posting! I keep getting on to check my email! Agghh! I am totally neglecting my kids. I took enough time off to get them dinner and then I thought I will just check my email for a second and now it's turning into just one more post. I think they're down coloring, so I better make this quick.

I just wanted to post these pics. I saw this idea in a store years ago and finally got this rooster hung this weekend so I could copy and hang my ribbon. I need to get this room painted, but can't quite commit to a color. I'm thinking a color scheme of teal, red, cream and brown. Any thoughts?

The Treasure Box Quilt

There is a little story behind this quilt (which, I think make for the very best kind of quilts.) Well, about 5 or 6 years ago (before we bought the house we're in now) we were living with Ryan's Aunt and Uncle for about 9 months while we figured out if we were going to build a house or not. One day, Ryan's Uncle (Ryan's mom's brother) handed me a box and said it was his mom's and he thought it had some sewing stuff in it and I could keep anything I wanted that was in it. Well, low and behold I found these beautiful embroidered blocks - about 10 of them - that his mother had made. Finally after some time I pieced 9 of them together in this simple 3x3 grid pattern, with gold sashing and red posts. Some people would kill me for doing this next part, but I decided to go ahead and have it machine quilted as opposed to quilting it by hand. But, the quilting turned out beautiful (my favorite quilter in Idaho did it.) I loved how the back fabric was a tone on tone green hydrangea pattern so that the cream threaded quilting showed up wonderfully. The quilter traced the pattern of the embroidery so it really featured the darling embroidery design.
Shortly after the quilt was finished (and shortly after Ryan's Grandma Barfuss past away) I felt inspired to give it to Ryan's mom. It was a spur of the moment idea and I went ahead and gave it to her. The blocks I found that day were a beautiful surprise so that is why the quilt is called, The Treasure Box Quilt.

American Flag lap quilt

Thanks Brittany for sending these pictures to add to my quilt history. I made this little lap quilt for my brother, Jared, about 4 years ago. No pattern needed here. Just choose what size blocks you want and piece them together to resemble an American flag. You don't have to be too technical - just think of it as "folk art."

For the quilting, my neighbor, Melinda Raven, just did a meandering loop & star pattern in a variegated thread color.

I try to make labels for most of my quilts. To do so, I just print out the label on the computer, tape the paper up on a window (or you could use a light box), tape light colored fabric centered on top of the paper and then trace. Then, just embroider over the words using two strands of embroidery floss with a simple stitch. Be sure to include information like who it is for (if it is a gift), who it was created by, the year it was finished, and possibly the city and state. Then using a hidden whip stitch attach the label to the quilt. I've done it before with the seams of the label hidden underneath and also on the outside of the label with a frayed edge. Whatever you prefer. You can make the label in whatever shape you like.

Cranberry Upside Down Cake

Friday, November 28, 2008

This image was taken from Kitchenography--Life in My Kitchen

Maybe I'm tired because I had some of THIS for breakfast. Do you think? It says it can be used as a coffee cake or dessert - so that's how I justified having it for breakfast. It was great. :)

Anyways, I got this recipe from my sister, Cassie, who found it on the blog: Kitchenography--Life in My Kitchen. Click here for the recipe. I made it yesterday for Thanksgiving and I loved it! I thought it would still be great for Christmas, so I'm passing it along. Oh, BTW, Cassie and I served it with homemade whipped cream. Yumm!

The author of Kitchenography--Life in My Kitchen said, "This cake comes from the LA Times Food Section via 'The Best American Recipes 2001-2002', a wonderfully curated collection of recipes series that I find are among my most used cookbooks. The Los Angeles Times does a yearly list of the food section staff's favorite recipes of the year, and this one was a unanimous winner."

A little Christmas project

I am tired.

Oh, so tired.

What about you?

I am still recovering from the last couple of days...I haven't been this tired in a long time. I think it started because I had the grand idea of having a slumber party with our kids on our landing floor Wednesday night. I convinced Ryan that it would be o.k. because we would just pull the futon mattress down off of the futon and he could sleep on that. The kids were SO excited. About half an hour before their normal bed time, they started saying, "Can we go to bed now?" So I didn't have to even ask them to go get their p.j.'s on or anything. They got all ready by themselves, got the sleeping bags out and they even got out trays (the kind for "breakfast in bed") set with dry oats and Pringles - yum:) So we all get in bed at 9 p.m.. I'm down for about 2 seconds in my sleeping bag and realize - this is not gonna work. Knowing I can't back out of this now (I mean, it was my idea and all) I get in my bag, gearing up for a long night. It only took me a minute though to come up with a NEW plan. After every one is asleep, I will quietly depart for my bedroom. No one will know. Plus, (I justify) I am getting up to go running in the morning and I don't want the cell phone alarm clock to wake everyone up:) Can you believe that? I am so bad. Well I guess I fell asleep for a little bit, but then about an hour later I woke up because somebody was snoring. I made the quick depart for my bed and then watched a couple of hours of T.V. I finally turned lights out at 12 and then tossed and turned for a few hours. Then R.J. came in needing some medicine for a stuffy nose around 3 or 4 a.m. (can you guess who was snoring now?:)) All night I had been thinking about quilting! I was thinking about quilt designs, if I had a booth at a quilt expo, what would it look like? Just totally random stuff. Don't you hate when you can't sleep because you're thinking about things that are so dumb or you just don't care about at the time? So finally at about 5 a.m., I decided to get up and google some stuff about quilting. I went running at 6:45 on Thanksgiving morning, came home and got busy cooking and then the festivities took off early that afternoon. So, needless to say - I am tired. I have been working on getting my Christmas decorations up today. I just took a break though and am completely lagging now.
I got side tracked with this little project. I have had this set of Jingle bells for a long time and I've always hated the bow & ribbon it was hanging from, so today, I decided to "beautify" it. I thought I'd share the pics just in case anyone is up for a festive little project. It was easy. All you need is lots of different colors of ribbon and a set of jingle bells. If I could, I would get a rusty set of jingle bells, but this is what I had.

It finally came!!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

I have been so anxious for my prize to come from the Fabricmatcher contest and it finally came today! It was a long fourteen days but I made it! I have had the biggest quilting itch lately and I have been holding off so that I could just finish up a few before I started something new. But, now I don't have to feel guilty about having fun with what came in the mail today. I was just in pure heaven after it arrived! So, I had to share some pics of the goodies.

Here's what it looked like when I opened up the box:

I got a nice hand-written card from the Moda Family.

8 patterns.

I'm thinking I want to make this one...

and this one.

And last but not least, the fabric. It was more than I expected. I thought maybe one bundle, but I couldn't believe they gave me two! There was a sticker on the plastic wrapping around one of the bundles that said $60.00. So, they were very generous. I'm so thankful. I never buy bundles of fabric. Just a little here and a little there. This is just hours of fun, at a time that I can really use it. Christmas came early. I told Ryan that I'm good now and that he doesn't need to get me anything.

M took this picture of me. What's with my expression? Kind of scary!:)

My kids heard me yelling with excitement and jumping up and down as I was opening it. So THEY started whooping and hollering too when they saw that there was Bubble wrap inside the box. They kept yelling, "I have been waiting for this bubble wrap!" It was kind of funny!

So, I am highly recommending that if you're interested in quilting, that you go over here to design/enter one of your own creations for Moda's November contest. The theme is Christmas. It's really easy. You just use their patterns and their Christmas fabrics and design a little something. Even if you're not a quilter, you might want to start! Or, if you aren't into quilting then you could even give the prize to a friend (like someone with the name Amber.) Whatever. It's just a fun little toy.

Dutch Babies

My family calls this recipe "Dutch Babies" but I think they're the same as German pancakes. But, I have been on a kick for these lately, probably because of the lemon sauce! I love the fluffyness, yet they have a little bit of crisp to them. They would be good with buttermilk syrup too, but I love the lemon sauce since it's the only time I get to have it. Let me know if you try it and what you think of the lemon sauce. Wait a minute...I am noticing a trend here...all of my recipes are the fatty dessert type dishes. O.K. I'll admit it, I have a total sweet tooth. So let's just assume that all of my recipes on this blog will be the non nutritious kind. Anyways here's the recipe:
1/3 cup butter
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup flour

Put butter in a 9" x 13" pan and set into a 425 degree oven. Then mix batter quickly while butter melts. Put eggs into a blender and whirl on high speed for 1 minute. With motor still running, gradually pour in milk. Slowly add flour. Whirl for another 30 seconds. Remove pan from oven and pour batter into hot melted butter. ** I have heard - the key to getting the dutch babies to fluff up around the sides and not be a flat version of it is to pour the batter into the butter and do not stir or move the batter around. I just open my oven door, pull out the rack that the pan is on and pour my batter in. Then I push the rack back in and quickly shut the door. Do not mix the batter into the butter. ** Bake until fluffy and well browned (20 - 25 minutes.) Dutch babies should be thin on the bottom of pan and bake up high around the sides.

For the lemon glaze:
2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. lemon juice, or to taste
2-3 cups powdered sugar (approximately)

You just want it to be lemony and a little thick like a glaze. I just keep adding lemon juice and powdered sugar until I get the right consistency. So good!
O.K. I've been putting this off, because I don't know if I can think of 6 random things about myself, but I'll try. My cousin Tina tagged me with this. So here goes:

1. I met Ron Howard (now - director/ then - Richie Cunningham from Happy Days) when I was a little girl.
2. I've danced at a Seattle SuperSonic's halftime show.
3. I have spent one night at a home for abandoned children.
4. I visited my Grandparents who lived in Hawaii for a whole month when I was 11 years old.
5. I am scuba certified and dove to 100 feet in Grand Cayman.
6. I HATE the smell of tuna, therefore, I have never tasted tuna. Yuck!

I'm tagging Sarah Rader, Keri Evans, Misty Ross, Meghan Simmons, Shelby West, and Janel Christofferson. The rules are: 1. Link this post to the person who tagged you: Amber 2. Post the rules on your blog 3. List 6 random things about yourself. 4. Tag 6 people at the end of your post. 5. Let each person know they have been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.

Peppermint Fancy

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

ItalicFinished Size: 61 1/2" x 61 1/2"
Peppermint Fancy
Pattern taken from: Blended Quilts from In The Beginning
Each block has a different quilt design on it. The back and binding are done in a brown, tan & red strip on bias.

The Johnson's est. 1998

Sorry, just ignore me if you don't care about quilting, but I've got a few more comin'!

This was a really fun one to make too. It's another pattern from Sandy Bonsib's Folk Art Quilts book. The block name is "Courthouse steps."

I've got it hanging up high in my entry way. Hanging it took a lot of effort on my dad and Ryan's part. First, I made a sleeve going across the top of the back. Then we put a dowel into it to keep it hanging straight. I threaded some ribbon through both sides and middle of the top-edge binding and later tied those onto the hooks. Meanwhile, my dad or Ryan (I can't remember which one - it was a group effort) got one of those huge ladders and hung the hooks, the quilt, and some bows that I had tied. Me, my mom, my dad and Ryan were all in there, working together, giving our opinions on how high, which wall, figuring out all the logistics of it all, etc. It was quite the project.