Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Monday, December 16, 2013
Our Yoga Christmas Cookie Exchange:
I learn something new every day!
A few weeks ago, I began attending a yoga class in Elkader, IA. It's been quite an experience!
I'll admit, I started going to yoga in the hopes of meeting a few people in our new town. Not only did I meet a great group of people, but I also found a new love for yoga! It helps that our instructor is great and easy to follow along (I'm definitely a beginner)!
With Christmas approaching, the yoga folks began talk of the annual Yoga Christmas Cookie Exchange. Sounded delicious to me! The date was set and I wanted to come up with something artistic and easy. ;) I did not want to screw up at my first cookie exchange!
When working on my new lovebird art series, I came up with the idea to make little yoga bird Christmas cards and birdnests for my cookie exchange. I knew birdnests would be easy and cute.
I prepared my cookies, bagged and tagged them with my little yoga birds, and placed them in a pretty bowl on the center of the table. Due to snow and a steep drive at my neighbors', where the cookie party was supposed to take place, I offered to have the party at our house! Luckily, Natalia had all of the food under control and I just needed to do a little quick cleaning.
As Natalia and I finished setting up for the party with our Christmas cookies on the table, I noticed she sure had baked a lot of cookies! (I figured she was bringing extra because she was the instructor?) In comes the first guest and she carried in a grocery bag FILLED with plates of cookies. I took the bag and placed the cookies out on the table... you can't even begin to imagine the shock on my face!
I had prepared what I thought was a few extra cookies for our 10-15 person party... I had no idea that at a cookie exchange, you make a dozen cookies per person attending!!
So as people poured in and our dining room table filled with beautiful cookies, I laughed and promptly served my perfect peppermint cream cocktails!
There could be a few different morals to this story, but I like to think that even if you screw up and make an honest mistake, if you've put forth obvious effort, and you're hanging with a great group of people... you can still have the merriest of evenings!
When I asked if there was anything I could bring to our yoga Christmas party, "one of my fancy cocktails" was suggested! So, I came up with a peppermint cream martini. Not only is this little cocktail delicious (pretty much a dessert drink), it's fun and festive!
The Grocery List
plastic cups, candy melts (white chocolate), candy canes, cream (or at least 2% milk), Whipped Cream, Creme de Menthe, Peppermint Schnapps, and Whipped Cream Vodka.
The Delicious Details:
Making white-chocolate candy-cane-coated martini "glasses" out of plastic cups allows you to dress up your display. It's inexpensive and easy to do for a large group; eliminating the chance for broken glasses and allowing for easy clean up!
I set some crushed-candy-cane to the side for a final garnish and used the remaining whole candy canes for decorative display.
You'll be surprised at how quickly you can transform ordinary clear plastic cups into special Christmas treats! They would even be cute with chocolate milk, topped with whipped cream and sprinkled with candy cane for the kiddos!
I mixed my ingredients in an emptied Gallon Water Jug for easy "shake and pour" service. I knew that I would have a houseful of people to serve and wanted to be able to hand everyone a cocktail at roughly the same time. Making the cocktail the night before the party was one less thing to do on party day!
Makes about 12-15 Martinis
1 cup Whipped Cream Vodka
2 cups Peppermint Schnapps
2 cups Cream de Menthe
3 cups cream
Shake & Pour
Garnish with Whipped Cream & Candy Cane Sprinkles
A cocktail straw is a cute addition!
Monday, December 9, 2013
A Merry White Christmas:
DIY Garland and Wreath
When we moved to Iowa, we loaded up a 26 foot truck from top to bottom, front to back, and without one inch to spare. Somehow, our Christmas decorations did not make it onto this truck. I suppose our cherished Christmas decorations were not high priority in July!
With all of our precious ornaments safely tucked away in NC, I figured this would be a good year to try a themed Christmas. With our new snowy scenery, "A Merry White Christmas" came naturally!
To make our home festive, without breaking the bank and buying all new, I made some of our decorations!
Our decorating-extraordinaire-mom was visiting for a few weeks and she helped me come up with some great ideas! We found several storefronts decorated with white trees this year and they looked so fluffy and fun. So, we kept our eyes out for a white Christmas tree. I purchased this prelit-6ft-white Christmas tree for only thirty-nine dollars, it goes perfect with our theme!
She had the best idea when we set up the tree; we loosely wrapped, and filled-in, the tree with white tulle! Even without ornaments, it looks simply glamorous!
(Okay, I do have two ornaments on our tree... Our Great-Aunt Bernita gave us an adorable white-themed owl ornament when she was here for Thanksgiving, and I have a little stuffed mouse named Norman.)
Using shades of pink and champagne ribbon,
I made wreaths like this one for my wedding day.
♥ August 20th 2011♥
This wreath was a quicker project than my wedding wreaths. I think using more fabric and less ribbon helped fill-up the wreath faster.
Tie a loop at the end of the twine.
This makes it ready to hang when you are ready to decorate.
As you can see, I used my foot and the banister to hold the twine taut while making my garland. (It felt like a yoga move! You may choose to secure yours to a chair or other stationary object.)
Lights are not necessary
but they do add sparkle...
So,I wrapped a strand of white Christmas lights(white-corded)around my garland.
On my wreath, I used battery operated
Since my DIY Wreath and Garland are white and shimmery, I should call them special occasion decorations rather than Christmas decorations. I look forward to using them for all sorts of events and holidays.
I love warm white Christmas lights.
Do you prefer vintage colored lights or white lights?
...What about LEDs?!
Do you change your Christmas theme each year?
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
A few favorites in Elkader, IA:
I could recommend several savory items at Fennellys' Irish pub! I particularly love the sweet and spicy crunch of their chipotle lime wings dipped in their original chunky blue-cheese dressing. The people are great, the food is fresh and flavorful, and they carry Deb's brews on tap!
Zach took me out to dinner for my birthday last month... you can tell, we were having fun. I always try whatever new beer Fennellys' has on tap from Deb's Brewtopia. It's neat ordering award winning beer that was brewed right here in Elkader.
I chose the Blackberry Blonde that night to accompany my birthday dinner. An added perk of drinking a local brew... I got to meet our local Brewmaster, Deb!
Elkader has so much to offer!
I hope you've enjoyed this little taste of the town.
As I continue to explore Elkader and surrounding areas, I look forward to sharing more interesting finds!