Sunday, November 28, 2010

A Vintage Christmas

I decided it's time for some new tree decor this Christmas. I've been using the same ornaments since I bought my first house, seven Christmases ago. High time for some new ones, I'd say. Over the past several months, I've been picking up vintage ornaments, at estate sales and antique malls. I also bought a few new sparkly ones, to complement the oldies. I'm excited to trim the tree with them next weekend. If they look this pretty sitting on the floor, I can't wait to see how they sparkle on the tree!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

{Wreathfest 2010}

WARNING: Long post ahead, chock-full of recipes, photos, wreathing, and rambling.

Yesterday I had 7 of my closest friends over for some very important business. Brunching. Wreath-making. Wreathfest 2010. And I think it is safe to say, it was the first annual. We'll be doing it again. Because it was awesome.

Over the last few months, I've been noticing lots of adorable wreaths out in the blog world. And naturally, I've been itching to make one (or twenty). So a few weeks ago, I sent out a little feeler e-mail to my crew, accompanied by photos of the wreath beauties I'd found. Everyone was on board. On board, and pumped. I bought all of the supplies, after polling them to find out which designs they wanted to make, and they all pitched in to cover the cost.

The girls arrived at 10, ready to make some wreaths! But first we fueled up on a little brunch. I meant to take some pics of the spread, but I got busy and before I knew it...everything was just about gone. I guess that's a good sign! Here is what I served...

Impossible Quiche
*Not sure where this name came from because it's about the opposite of impossible to make. Should be called the Very Possible Quiche. We have it every Christmas morning at my parents' house. I like it better than your typical quiche with crust because I'm just not a big fan of pie crust.

12 slices of crispy fried bacon, crumbled
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used a mix of swiss and cheddar)
1 1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup finely chopped onion (I prefer green onion, but yellow onion works too)
3/4 cup Bisquick
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 tsp. salt
4 eggs
Optional add-ins: mushrooms, peppers, any veggie you like.

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease 9-10" pie plate. Sprinkle bacon, cheese, and onion (any any other veggies you're adding) in pan. Place remaining ingredients in blender and blend on high for 1 minute. Pour into pan. Bake 50-55 minutes, until golden brown. If you want to be extra sure it's done, insert a knife in the center. If it comes out's ready.

Cranberry, Brie, & Caramelized Onion Pizza
*I put this together on my own, so I don't really have exact measurements.

Pizza dough (store bought or homemade)
2 cups shredded mozzarella
Brie (1 wedge, about 6 oz.???) - sliced thinly. Make sure it's really cold when you slice it...or it will be tough to do.
Dried Cranberries - about 3/4 cup
Yellow Onion - 1 medium
Garlic - 2 cloves finely chopped or 1 tsp. minced
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper

Preaheat oven to 425 (or temp specified for your crust). Start by caramelizing the onions: Slice the onion thinly, add to hot pan with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, cook over low-medium heat until the onions are soft and golden in color - about 10-15 minutes. Add the minced garlic during the last couple minutes of cooking. Set onions and garlic aside.

Roll dough out and place on cookie sheet or pizza stone. Drizzle dough with a few tablespoons of olive oil, just so the whole thing has a light layer of oil. Prick the dough with a fork in several spots, so it doesn't bubble up too much in the oven. Bake the dough without toppings for about 4 minutes. I like to do this because it helps the crust get nice and crispy.

Take crust out and top it. If all of the olive oil has absorbed, you can add a couple more tablespoons. Add the mozzarella, brie, onions and garlic, and cranberries. Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the crust is golden and cheese is melted. Let cool slightly and cut into squares.

Pumpkin Butter Dessert Bars
I came across these delectable treats on Kasey's Blog a few weeks ago and really wanted to try them. I thought this ladies' brunch/wreathfest was the perfect opportunity. Mostly because I knew I wouldn't have the whole pan sitting in my kitchen, tempting me day and night until they were all gone. They were a huge hit. I'm pretty sure everyone had at least two. I am refusing to tally my bar consumption over the last couple of days. What good would it do, really?

OK, onto the wreaths! Three of the designs we tried came from Emily @ Jones Design Company - the bookpage, burlap ruffle, and Nonna. On her site, she has tutorials for the bookpage and burlap ruffle wreaths, for everyone to use. She also has an awesome Christmas tutorial that features all kinds of adorable holiday crafts. I purchased it, and let me tell you, it was $7 well spent :) That's where we got the instructions for the Nonna wreath. Check out Emily's "tutorials" tab for links to all of them.
I also snagged a demonstration from The Nester, for the coffee filter wreath. And I found this tutorial for the yarn wreath, via Danielle @ Take Heart.

Here are a few photos of the ladies, hard at work...

And here's a lady who couldn't join us in person, but she was there in spirit. In the form of yarn. Did anyone else know Vanna had a yarn line? I was quite surprised when I saw her face in the aisles of yarn at Michaels'. I wonder if she's ever knitted a scarf or sweater for Mr. Sajak?

Back to the wreathing. To say things got a little messy...would be an understatement.

We talked, we laughed, we worked intently. The excitement alone was enough to wear anybody out.

But all the work and mess resulted in some major cuteness. Here are the girls with their finished beauties.

Val & Jessica with their coffee filter wreaths.

Casey with her burlap ruffle wreath.

Tarah with her fabric ruffle wreath and bookpage wreath.

Close up of her ruffle wreath. She used the tutorial for the burlap ruffle,
but used this cute green and white fabric instead.

Annie with her bookpage wreath.
Four of us made these, and they all turned out looking a little bit different.
All very cute though!

Katie with her festive Christmas yarn wreath and burlap ruffle wreath.

Sarah with her bookpage wreath and burlap ruffle wreath. I crowned her best wreather. Everyone's turned out so great, but that Sarah...she has a real knack for wreathmaking. I'm so happy she discovered it at WF2010.

Me with my bookpage wreath and Nonna wreath.

I also made a couple others later.

Here's my bookpage wreath, hung in the dining room. I hung it inside an old gold frame from Value Village. I know it would really be a perfect fit in the den (you know, because it's like made from a book)...but I kind of love it in here. So it will stay put for a while.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I've worked up quite an appetite compiling this very lengthy and informative post. And there is one last, loney pumpkin butter bar calling my name.

Yes, it's sitting on a wreath plate. I promise I didn't buy them especially for Wreathfest though. Honestly.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone, and...happy wreathing, too!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hiatus Over

So it's been a while since I posted. What can I say? I don't really have a good excuse. I wasn't backpacking across Europe, or working on any super exciting projects. Just staying busy with the usual stuff and also taking time to relax and enjoy my favorite season. But hopefully my little blog hiatus is over, and I can muster up the inspiration (and the time) to get back to semi-regular posting. With the holidays upon us, it shouldn't be too difficult to find some good blogging material :)

Speaking of, I'm getting awfully excited for Christmas. I haven't started shopping or decorating...I don't get my decorations out before Thanksgiving because it just feels wrong to me. I, however, have no problem listening to Christmas music mid-November. One of the STL stations is playing it already, non-stop, and I can't help myself! It just puts me in a better mood, especially the old classics. Bing, Dean, Frank, Johnny - I heart them all.

Back to Thanksgiving...I thought I'd share a great source for Thanksgiving art for any of you searching for some last minute decor for Turkey Day. I downloaded this print, from this generous blogger, after seeing it on Shannon's blog. I just printed it on my color printer, and it looks great in my most favorite white gallery frame from Target. I assume the quality would be even better if you printed it, or had it printed, on photo quality paper. This was good enough for me though. Here it is propped on my mantel.

So even though I only get to enjoy it for another week or so, I'm so grateful I found it (pun intended). I'll definitely be bringing it out year after year!

I hope to be back this weekend with photos and details from what I'm calling "Wreathfest 2010". This Saturday, I'm having a few friends over for a little wreath making brunch. I'm so glad my friends respond with enthusiasm to ideas like this one, as opposed to thinking I'm nuts. I guess they just know what to expect from me by now!