2011 Reflections

2011 was an awesome year.  This the first year I've kept track of my crafts/recipes/family outings through blogging, and I must say I'm glad I did.  It is so enjoyable looking back and reminiscing. I decided to collect some of my faves for today's post, month by month, starting when I first started blogging.

March 2011
Our little one enjoyed his first taste of maple syrup on Maine Maple Sunday.
The yummiest treat was Whoopie Pies.
The most enjoyed crafty projects were tied between the Wooden Push Cart and the Play Flower Garden.

April 2011
Brought the beginnings of the Excavation of our garage and our baby's love for trucks.
The yummiest treat was Carrot Cake.
The most enjoyed craft project was The Car Road Made from Jeans.

May 2011
Lots of happiness to share with a visit from the BOG (Bald Old Grandpa).
The yummiest treat was Fudgy Oat Bars.
The pair of my husbands' Khakis were turned into a Backpack.

June 2011
Father's day celebrated with the best daddy.
Yummiest treat was the pie crust that was turned into so many yummy pies.
The crafty hit was Reusing Old Baby Clothes into Snackbags.

July 2011
Strawberry picking.  Mmm.
Yummy treat was plain old chocolate chip cookies.
The crafty hit was the Special Date Pillow, perfect for weddings.

August 2011
A canoe, a sunny day and my family and a little respite close to home.  Sounds nice in this cold weather.
We enjoyed Oatmeal Wheat Rolls
My craft time was spent creating my new craft space.

September 2011
We celebrated the first birthday of my little guy.
Justin's favorite Apple Crisp was gobbled up quickly.
The crafty hit was Wooden Play Groceries .

October 2011
Our family went Barnyard as we paraded around a local farm.
We ate Cinnamon Swirl Cake.
A birthday party gift was a Superhero Cape, which reportedly he didn't want to wear because he didn't want to ruin.

November 2011
We announced that Baby #2 is on his/her way!
Snickerdoodle whoopie pies.
 I made and shared the pattern/s for the Alligator Puppet and the Five Little Monkeys Song.

December 2011
 We enjoyed watching our Little Fireman enjoy Christmas.
The Danish Chocolate Orange Cookies disappeared quicker than I anticipated.
The upcycled hat from old sweaters turned out to be a great Christmas hat.

2011 was a fantastic, fun filled and busy year.  Can't wait to see what 2012 has in store for us!

Kids Craft: Christmas Paper

Please forgive just one more Christmas post.  I just think my little guy did such a good job that I want to share.  His job was to dip his finger into the paint and make dots all over the paper packaging.  He loved it!  Once dry, I added Rudolph noses, eyes and antlers with markers.

And I think it came out just as cute as can be!

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Danish Chocolate Orange Cookies

 Growing up, one of the traditions I used to look forward to was actually a gift from a family friend.  There was this little red tin, shaped like a train, that we'd use and return every year.  It was the highlight of December when it would come back to us, filled with delicious goodness of dozens of misc. bites of perfection.   They must have tirelessly baked and baked the amazing set of holiday treasures.  Each sample better than the last.  Fast forward to recent times, even though it's been years and I now live states away from my hometown, I still would think about the contents of that little red tin every Christmas.  What to do?  Bug the baker until she folds...and sends me those recipes!  One day, the most delightful Email came to me, with 19 attachments.  Those attachments were those infamous recipes!  I now have the tools to build my own box of Christmas delights.  And I have permission to share the collection with you. 

These cookies are oh so good.  My mouth waters just looking at them.  Yum! I've listed my condensed version of the recipe below.

Danish Chocolate Orange Cookies 
from Old World Favorites, page 22

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup sugar
1 egg
2 T grated orange peel
1/2 tsp orange extract (or I've used 1 T of orange juice instead)
1 1/2 cup flour

1) Mix above ingredients in sequence. 
2) Refrigerate for an hour.
3) I used a cookie press to make these cookies.  Or I'd recommend with floured hands, roll into 2inch logs, placing on cookie sheet and squishing with a fork.
4) Place on a greased cookie sheet, bake at 400 for 10-12 minutes.
5) Cool.
6) Melt 4 ounces of semi sweet or dark chocolate. 
7) Dip end of cookie in chocolate, dip in sprinkles (optional), let cool on wax paper.

Word to the wise, if you married the cookie monster, you may want to make a double batch.
Or if you married cookie monster and birthed a miniature cookie monster, a triple batch may be more appropriate.  You wouldn't believe how quickly this triple batch disappeared!

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Spotlight on my Dad: Wooden Airplane

I like to think I'm a nice blend of both of my parents.  I got my creativity, focus for projects and my determination to finish from my dad.  My dad always has a project going...and I think I'll show you some of his projects in time.  He's given us some amazing things (homemade canoe, kayaks, furniture, toys, etc).  Since my dad is a hermit, I got my social skills from my mom. :)  I told the BOG (Bald Old Grandpa) that my little one would enjoy an airplane for Christmas.  And boy, did he deliver!  Here it is:
Although my little guy was first confused about opening the package (he kept putting the bubble wrap back), he was quite excited to discover the contents. 
The propeller spins. Which is exciting. 
And it goes!   As an added bonus, he sometimes rides it too.  Thank you BOG...this is a gift he'll have for a lifetime!
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Merry Christmas, Little Fireman

A recount of our most magical Christmas moment...

Here's our little fireman...sporting his new gear.
Here he is pointing to what's in that bag...
Here he is discovering what's in that bag.
Here he is clapping and squealing because it's his very own firetruck!
He and daddy signing "firetruck".  Notice the firetruck book that we spent a good 15 minutes reading before we proceeded to additional presents.
Here he is trying it out.
So proud of himself making it go!
Discovering the horn.
Daddy is equally as excited!  (And thankfully as you can see, this was the last gift...if it was the first, I don't think we'd open anything else.)
Discovering the ladder too.  How neat is that?
Saying "woo woo" as he drives it backwards.
Showing off for Pap later.
Insisting on wearing his new fireman gear all day long and loving his brand new firetruck.  I hope your Christmas was filled with moments that were equally as magical.  Oh the joy of Christmas through a child's eye!
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Soft Frosted Sugar Cookies

Soft Sugar Cookies

1 cup sour milk
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup shortening (The recipe says shortening, but I use 1/2 butter, 1/2 coconut oil instead)
1 3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
4 1/2 cups flour

1) Combine the sour milk and baking soda.  Set aside.
2) In separate bowl combine shortening and sugar.  Add eggs and vanilla.  Add salt and baking powder.
Alternate the flour and milk/baking soda until all mixed.
3) Drop by rounded teaspoons onto greased cookie sheet.
4) Bake 375 for 10-11 minutes.
5) Let cool.  Frost with recipe listed below

1/4 cup butter, softened 
1 tsp vanilla 
couple tablespoons milk or gobs of vanilla yogurt
4-5 cups confectionery sugar

Whip butter and vanilla.  Add confectionery sugar and milk/yogurt until desired consistency is reached.  (I often reduce the confectionery sugar by a cup and replace with a cup of flour to cut the sweetness of the frosting.  It all depends on what kind of sweet tooth you have).

Two candy canes powdered in a burr mixer make perfect toppers for Christmas as long as you frost and eat right away.  They don't last well for the next day. 

Or sprinkles work great. 

2011-Three days before Christmas we're delivering our Christmas cookies wearing no coat, a summer hat and of course our beloved frog boots.  Did I mention we live in Maine?  It's been a toasty December for Maine!

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Upcycled Hat, Mama Made

One evening, I decided to do something about my little one's lack of a Christmas hat.  Exactly one hour later, I had designed and made a warm and festive wool hat. 
One of my crafty pals was cleaning out her stash.  She gave me some scraps from wool sweaters she had felted for other projects. Wool sweater sleeves cut in 1 1/2 inch strips, sewing together, tapered at the top, and you get a perfect hat.  Add some 1/2 inch strips with bells and you've got a little noggin topped with holiday cheer.

And I big puffy heart love these ones of him discovering his miniature tree.   I hope the noggins in your house are topped with holiday fun. :)

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Holiday Snowflake Shirt

How about a homemade snowflake shirt?  Just a quick reverse applique on a plain shirt.  An easy way for one more piece of mama made to be slipped into the rotation.  A little piece of mama made is like wearing a hug from one's mama all day long.

All you do is trace a design on the front of a shirt.  Pin a piece of fabric fused with interfacing behind.  Stitch along the lines.  Cut out the fabric close to the seam.  Wash and wear.

My handsome model is above.
And how about making a few more?  A few more for this awesome family who have generously welcomed three little boys, ages 1, 2 and 3, into their home.  They pretty much became foster parents of a houseful overnight and have approached the accompanying challenges with loving hearts, all while continuing to work hard at their careers.  Inspiring!  I thought that a bit of homemade on those little boys' hearts would be like sending them a hug from afar.
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