Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Holiday Helpings

This Semi-Abnormal Gal has been thoroughly enjoying healthy holiday helpings of all of the following:

Time being silly with my family
Christmas Traditions
Midnight Champagne
Baked Brie
Snuggling with Scarves
15 Bean Soup
New Christmas Gifts
Playing with my Pup
Learning my new DSLR: Rosie P
Watching copious amounts of Dexter
Reading, Cooking and Blogging

Life IS good, my friends. Enjoy some of the photographic evidence:

 Christmas Morning:

 Mom is loving her new yellow hoodie, while Dad is ecstatic over his new fly swatter.

I scored my very first grill from Santa Mom and Dad! Very excite.

The newest member of the "herd"

Baked Brie: Before and After

only my family (of 3!) gets a magnum of champagne for after midnight mass

I hope this holiday season has brought many servings of comfort, joy and peace to you and yours.

Love to all,
~the blissfully full with holiday helpings gal, Jess

Sunday, December 26, 2010

A girl cannot live off pudding alone.....

 ...even though I have been the last few days. Yes, I'm the genius who has her wisdom teeth removed right before Christmas.  And naturally what have I been doing other than watching copious amounts of Dexter, but catching up on all my favorite food blogs, magazines and cookbooks? Oh right, that is what I've been doing.

Um, hello, hungry dummy darling. This is what a girl will do when a diet of mashed potatoes and tapioca pudding is no longer cutting it. She gets creative, and a little kooky.

So, without further ado, here is my contribution to Christmas Dinner: Kristmas Krab Krudites, Kinda.

The goods*:
leftover mashed potatoes
chopped onion
1 egg
*all portions are based on the volume of potatoes....if you had say, 5lbs of mashed potatoes, you would probably want to use two eggs. Just keep adding flour until you have a slightly stiff batter. 

mix, mix, mix

"Flip n Fry" in olive oil

Krab salad (mine is a mix of krab, fine chopped green pepper, salt, black pepper, dill, sugar, mayo and Grey Poupon)

Top the potato pancakes with the krab salad and a drizzle of sriracha sauce, to "kick" it up a little.

Both yummy and gum friendly! 

You could easily make these into a true appetizer, and therefore krazy krudites, by making the potato pancakes bite sized.  Merry Christmas.

Love to all,
~the, "yes, I know crudites are raw veggies, but I can't have crunchy food right now so I'll call them what I want" gal, Jess

Friday, December 24, 2010

Secret Santa Gift Exchange- From Washington to Florida, with Care

So, I was that kid that loved pen-pals (thanks to fbook, my American Girl Pen Pal, Kat and I still stay in touch a few times a year!), the "mail the cat around the world project" and of course Secret Santa exchanges. Needless to say, when friend and fellow blogger Amber told me about the Secret Santa Gift Exchange back in October I gladly signed up and then promptly forgot about it.

I mean, all I had to do was choose a $15 gift to send to another blogger, whose contact info I would receive later on, and mail it in time for Christmas. No long handwritten letters, sticky collages or cheesy pictures with a stuffed cat and writing in a "travel-log" before shipping to the whole thing off to the next kid in line. This was going to be a snap.

Then I got my contact info for the gift exchange. I was to be the Secret Santa for Krista, of Daily Happenings. Turns out Krista is an awesome Mom of two lovely boys and loves art and requested "crafty items" as her gift. (Me, being me I just said "surprise me" back in October).

Oh no, craft items? Um.....help? You just saw the extent of my craftiness the other day, and well, I didn't want to let Krista down, and figured a $15 gift card to Hobby Lobby would be kind of a cop out. Oh wait, and we don't even have a Hobby Lobby in Florida! Needless to say, I came up with a little something, something care of Perpetual Kid, which I'll let Krista tell you about here.

I was pretty anxious then when I got my package all the way from Washington State, that Krista would have sent me a lump of coal, in response to my lack of crafty themed gift, and the woman totally knew how to win my heart, through my oh so sweet tooth.

Yum, yum, yummy.  Candy cane brownie mix, hot chocolate, a Christmas mug and chocolate spoons? Hello sugar coma. Oh, and perhaps there was a bag of Reese's candy, but you didn't really want to see a picture of that now did you? Oh, you did? Well, sorry. I ate them. So, I'm actually not sorry.

A big thank you to my Blogger Santa Krista! I'm off to bake those brownies for my favorite Christmas Eve Party of the year!

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Bloggie Good Night!
~the little blogger elf herself, Jess

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It truly is better to give than receive...

...and that isn't just the guilty line I had my Beta officers slather the toy drive collection boxes with (which was really successful....so there!), I whole-heartedly believe in this statement.

Yes, I was once the child that started her Christmas Wish List back in October (I am an only child-and I am spoiled, but not a brat....there is a BIG difference!), now I start my gift list in August-or frankly whenever I start seeing items that inspire me and I want to share with my friends and family.

My favorite gifts to give are books, kitschy kitchen ware and my famous gift bundles. Said "gift bundles" are usually a bag, basket or decorative box filled with themed items. For example, one year my bestie was going on a back-packing trip to Europe, so I did a mini day pack with a couple travel guide books, and a survival kit for the plane ride. ya dig? she did!

Sometimes though, I actually get crafty. Or as crafty as this not so artistically gifted gal can manage. I have a few "crafty" Christmas projects in the works, but as some of my readers are the recipients for these gifts, I can't give those tips away just yet.

You are in luck though, I made some simple but fun and personalized birthday gifts earlier in the season, and if you are a last minute gifter, this idea might just work for a beloved on your giving list.

I started out with one base item and after a trip to Michael's ended up with two unique gifts for two very different ladies, whom both happen to celebrate their birthdays in the same month.

Here is how I pulled it off:

Two identical, but plain flower bud vases from Urban Outfitters
(clicky for the exact item, if you end up being inspired by semi-crafty-ness)

An assortment of flowers, feathers, thistle and dried lavender becomes....

Two beautiful bud vase sets, perfect for a mantle, centerpiece or dresser topper. 

Bright, bold, eye popping Gerber daisies for Christine and sexy, subtle and earthy purples for Ashley. 

I didn't want to give these away. Which means they were the perfect gifts.

And yes, this is as "crafty" as I get....I put silk feathers and such in a pre-made vase set. Love me, love my lack of art skills.

Love to all,
~the "I love giving gifts, even if they are only semi-homemade" gal, Jess

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree...

....you smell so lovely! 

Because you are a real live tree! Cut down from a real tree farm!

Ok, enough with the signing, let's get down to business!

1- Choose the type of tree you want.  Mr. Jones (my family has been going to The Jones Farm for over 15 years!) has Florida Sand Pines and Virgina Pines for "hunt and cut" out in the field.  Those two species are nearly identical but the Florida Sand has longer needles and is native, so it's always my personal choice. Mr. Jones also has Frasier Furs and some other "fancier" pre-cut trees too, but I like cutting down my own tree.

2- Pick your victim....err, the tree of your holiday dreams.  A few tips:
  • First off, don't fret about height, my family needs a 10ish foot tall tree, but Mr. Jones is in a "regrowing year" so he had mostly 12-14 footers, or under 8 footers. So, we started looking at the taller trees, but mentally lopping off the bottom 2-3 feet. This is really easy to do, just make sure that none of the limbs are growing "up", in which case a hole could be created.
  • Ensure that your tree is "centered."  Some farms use pre-set machines to groom their trees, and if the "comb" is not centered you will end up with one side of your tree being very heavy with branches. This leads to the dreaded tree crashing at home, and no one likes that. (PS. did you know that most species of pines used for Christmas Trees grow 3 times a year, so they have to be groomed and shaped after each growth)

 Our winner for 2010! This baby was over 12 feet, so Dad started the cutting process about a foot up from the ground.  After about a minute of sawing, success!

 Shaking out some of the dead pine needles.

Mr. Jones then gave our pine-y friend a trip on the shake-rattle-roller to remove even more needles. You can't tell from this still shot, but that thing vibrates like crazy! (For my fellow science nerds, its like a vortex on crack!)

After a 20 minute ride home in the back of the truck (there are some benefits to living in the boonies. Mr. Jones farm would be about 1.5 hour journey if I lived in Gville proper!) Daddy was on light and garland duty, Mum and I add the ornaments and then Mom also adds tinsel to the tree at the end, in spite of my yearly tantrum objection to the fake, plastic silver strands. For a run down of my favorite ornaments, check out my decorating post from Christmas 2009.

Since I rent from my Dad, and live just down the hill from Mom and Dad's house in my abarnment, I opted not to do my own tree this year. But of course I had to bust out a few holiday decorations. 

Enjoy the winter spender:

 Living room window: My bird lives on the sill year round, but she got some snowy, holly greenery with pinecones for company and a little holly wreath on the window.

A reindeer ornament graces the little kitchen window. 

My favorite: I picked up this vase from the discount isle of Target back in September for something like $6 and I make it seasonal specific with different flowers, feathers and thistle.  For a winter scheme: a third piece of the greenery from the living room windowsill and a pretty little sparkly cardinal.

My salt and pepper birdies enjoy foraging for holiday mini-bows under my mini-silver fiber-optics tree (a find at Boarders last year) on the dinning room table.

The mix-match reindeer herd kicked out the pumpkins and gourds that have been hanging out on my sidetable/sewing machine all fall long, and brought some more mini-bows with them! 

I love the pink/black one the most (also from Boarders, circa 2009), but don't tell the big silver guy, ok?

My most cherished item is this beautiful German wall/window hanging that Abigail sent me from from Germany during her winter holiday last year. I love it. I wanted to you really see the detail, so enjoy the couch shot, too!  It normally hangs on my dinning room sliding glass door.

Last but not least, my two favorite March of Dimes holiday animals are chilling in the leaf dish on the coffee table. So cute and a throw back to my dorm days, as Mom used to send me a seasonal care-box with one of these guys every year to spice up the space.

Love to all,
~the little holiday decorator gal, Jess

PS. I added a string of white lights to my living room window and I'm loving it.