Saturday, December 31, 2011

My Favorite 11(squared) of 2011


Okay so first of let me say 2011 felt busy. 2011 felt productive. 2011 was EXHAUSTING. This year for the 2011 blog recap I decided to go through and list my 11 favorite projects AND my 11 favorite recipes that have been shared here on Just Another Day in Paradise through out the year.

Not all of my favorite projects were tutorials. Some were just things I was super proud of accomplishing. Okay first up a little recap of my favorite projects, in no particular order:

1. Hoodie-a-saurus (pictured above)


4. Sven the Sock Monkey
this one was for a crafting competition...and shock I never 
really posted about it. Still loved it SO much.


6. PARTIES (bowling, puppy, and superman themed)


MY ABSOLUTE FAVORITE
7. COSTUMES (Wolverine, Spiderman, and Superman)



Whew! Obviously I had some fun this year with my projects.

I also had fun with cooking and sharing some recipes. Since I am 7 months preggars, food really seems to be consuming my every waking thought. In light of this, I thought I would share 11 of my favorite recipes for the year too.






most popular food post

Now I am SUPER hungry....I mean stomach-growling-mouth-drooling hungry.

I sure enjoyed 2011. Lots of creating. Lots of cooking. Lots of new adventures.

I know 2012 will be just as exciting with the arrival of our sweet little surprise baby boy #4, continuing to get settled in our new home, and just being a fun crazy house full of all Little Men.

Hope you can look back with fondness on your 2011 too.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Totes of All Sorts


I have this friend. She likes to knit. She makes me envious of all her knitty creations. She makes me wish I could knit. Alas, I can't. However, since she can, she gets this lovely little canvas tote.


I saw a bag like this on the internet and thought to my self, "Self, I think I can recreate this."

So I used my handy dandy Silhouette (you could also use freezer paper as a stencil), a store bought canvas tote, and some fabric paint.

This was the end result.


Then all I had to do was go and buy some lovely yarn and pack the tote full of it. Instant gift for my friend the knitter.


I also had the idea to make another tote for her little sister, the reader. I loved the idea for this tote when I saw it on pinterest.


Hehehe...anyone else singing the song in your head...um...ehem...me neither...I mean I don't know the words to that song or anything...

I used freezer paper for this one...I don't know why, I just did. The results were not as crisp and clear as using the Silhouette...but it is still pretty fantastic. Just ignore the letters that bled a little bit.

Now my friend, the reader, has a pretty witty tote to carry all her Big Books.


Totes are pretty easy to make, especially if you buy them already made. Then you just need to add your own personal touches. When in doubt what to get someone...get them a tote.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dark Chocolate Cookies


Do you still need a delightful cookie recipe for your neighbors? Maybe you are still in need of a yummy cookie to entice Santa to leave you the bestest present ever.

Well friends, these cookies are delightful. They are slightly crispy on the outside but soft and ooey gooey on the inside. They are dark chocolate. They are delightful. They are especially good warm...what cookie isn't?

Plus they are pretty!



Dark Chocolate Cookies 
adapted from Divine Baking


Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups dark chocolate chips (I used Hershey's Special Dark), divided
3 large egg whites, room temp
2 cups powdered sugar, divided plus 1/2 cup for rolling dough in
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 2 baking sheets with nonstick spray. Melt 1 cup of chocolate chips in a glass container in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time. Stir in between each 30 seconds. Should take between 1 1/2 minutes and 2 minutes. Cool slightly.

Using mixer, beat egg whites with whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Gradually beat in 1 cup of sugar. Continue beating until mixture looks like soft marshmallow cream.

Whisk 1 cup sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt together in a separate bowl. On low speed, mix in the dry ingredients into the wet mixture.

Then stir in warm chocolate and 1/2 cup of chips. The dough will be pretty stiff.

Place 1/2 cup powdered sugar in a bowl. Roll 1 tablespoon of dough into a ball. Roll each ball into the powdered sugar, making sure to cover liberally. Then place each dough ball onto the prepared baking sheet about 2 inches a part from each other.

Baked until puffed and top just starts to crack. This can take anywhere from 8-10 minutes depending on your oven, so make sure to keep your peepers on those cookies. Cool on the cookie sheets for about 10 minutes and then transfer most to a cooling rack...some maybe to your mouth. Just sayin'.


Yummy, yummy!

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Felt Cookies: Quickish Gift


Awhile ago I saw this idea on MADE...you know that one pretty awesome blog. I immediately pinned it to my Projects To Do board. I mean I do love making anything from felt and I knew this would be a fun and easy gift to make. There wasn't a tutorial, but it was easy peasy to figure out what to do.

Really, it is easy. Cut out circles for any regular cookie. Then cut out random chip-like shapes for chocolate chip cookies or anything similar. Cut out heart or other shapes for sugar cookies, then cut a smaller piece from a frosting color.


For the gingerbread man and woman just trace yourself out a basic gingerbread person shape. Then cut out tiny pieces of felt to turn them into a traditional gingerbread man and woman.


Sew all the pieces on one of the two pieces for each cookie. When pieces are in place sew the two cookie pieces together. That is it!

See what I mean about easy!

Then your favorite little baker can have his or her own set of scrumptious cookies.

Some chocolate chip cookies. Some chocolate white chip cookies. We must not leave out peanut butter.


Of course your baker will need a gingerbread husband and wife.


And I personally think that no baking session is complete with out some sugar cookies!


Cookies are delightful, don't you think? Bonus....these are calories free.


Now I just need to package them up, gift wrap them and give them to one of my sweet little nieces.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Candy Cane Num Num Mix


I am almost recovered from last week...almost...

This week I am a flurry of baking, sewing, and getting ready for a houseful of guests.

My handmade gifts are still in the process of being completed...remember how I said I was going to try and get done early so I didn't have to sew the week before Christmas? Ha! Hahaha! Ehem...ha.

Anywho...I have a couple of projects to show you this week. I know I am probably the only person still sewing Christmas presents but I figure if there is anyone out there still looking for a quick present idea you might get it here or hey, with the glory of pinterest you can keep it in your idea file.

I have also been baking over several days in order to compile a plate of delectable goodies to hand out to all our new neighbors. So don't be surprised if I share all of them with you this week too. After all it is never too late to do some holiday eating baking, right?

Today I am sharing a holiday remake of our family favorite Num Num Chex Mix. I know I have gone on and on about our family favorite treat, but it seriously is heavenly! The other day as I was looking for another quick and easy treat to add to our neighbor goody plates and I had a sudden epiphany. Why not add some candy canes and a little peppermint extract to the Num Num Mix?

So I gathered up the ingredients from my pantry and whipped out a batch. The peppermint and candy canes totally dressed up this mix in true holiday fashion.

So if you are looking for a quick and easy treat to make for your friends, family, neighbors, mailman, teacher, or for you...hop on this recipe!

Candy Cane Num Num Mix


Ingredients:


1 box rice Chex cereal
3 sticks of butter (I know GASP...remember you are giving it away/sharing)
1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cups light Karo syrup
1/2-1 teaspoon of peppermint extract (depending on your love of peppermint)
6-7 candy canes, smashed up






First get some little elf in your house to smash up your candy canes. I am pretty sure they will love it as much as my destructive elf did.


Pour the entire cereal box into a large bowl and set aside.

Next you will combine the sugar, syrup, and butter in a large saucepan. Heat over medium high heat until boiling, stirring often. Once it starts boiling, let it boil, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes. After 3 minutes, remove from heat and stir in your extract. It will pop, fizz, and maybe foam a little. Oh and the intense smell of the peppermint might burn your eyes and nose. Don't be scared, just keep stirring. It will all calm down.

Pour the mixture over the cereal in the bowl. Scrap out as much of the mixture as you can using a spatula. Then with a more sturdy spoon, stir the cereal to evenly coat with the syrup mixture.

Once it is evenly coated, pour the cereal out onto two baking sheets. Spread out the cereal. Then sprinkle the crushed candy canes over the top of the cereal.


The cereal will need to be stirred/tossed/moved around every couple of minutes to ensure that as it cools it doesn't stay in large clumps. You can use your hands for this. Just kind of move all the cereal around and break up any big clumps. You want the cereal to stay in small or individual pieces.

Once the mixture has completely cooled you can store in a gallon Ziploc bag or other airtight container. You can package it to give out or keep it on hand for holiday snacking.


Merry Christmas everyone!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Eggnog Syrup on Waffles or Pancakes


Whew this week has been rough. Sometimes someone makes the comment, "How do you do it all?" Pshhaw...I don't! Not even close! I have had a school function for Oldest's school this week that I have been in charge of and it has chewed me up and spit me out.

Nothing else has gotten done. Ask my pile of still-to-make Christmas presents or Mt. Laundry getting to climbable heights. There is the sweeping, toilet cleaning, exercising, and accomplishing of any kind that has all been ignored this week.

Hubby keeps reminding me that by Thursday this little event will be done and then I can move on to thinking and planning for the things I really love at Christmas. For sure I am excited about winding down and just thinking about our family Christmas.

We had a taste of Christmas the morning of Hubby's birthday that has had to tide me over until Thursday. Hubby loves eggnog. Me not so much, but he really loves it. So do the Little Men. I came across several recipes for eggnog flavored pancake/waffle syrup. I knew this would be a great treat to have for his birthday breakfast.

The Little Men and Hubby loved it. The super sweet syrup concoction was a nice little treat for breakfast. We are normally toast or cereal people, but Hubby's birthday called for a special breakfast. The warm syrup poured over warm waffles was a little piece of holiday delight.

Eggnog Syrup was easy to make and really the only thing you might need to grab from the store is the eggnog. So if you like eggnog, or you love someone who does, give this a go. I actually think this would even make a great neighbor Christmas gift packaged in a mason jar. Hey you could even pair it up with a serving or two of pancake or waffle mix. Perfect!


Eggnog Syrup 
Dine and Dish 


1 stick of butter
3/4 cup store bought-full fat eggnog
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda

In a large sauce pan, combine butter, eggnog, and sugar. Heat to boiling over medium high heat, stirring constantly. Once it comes to a boil remove from heat. Add in vanilla and baking soda, keep stirring. The syrup will foam up and expand a bit. Let it set for about a minute. Pour it into a container (or containers if giving away). There will be foam on the top at first. This will go down after a bit.

Warm to serve, or package to giveaway.

Enjoy your eggnog syrup!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

In a Nutshell: Haircuts, More BBall, and a Birthday


It is no secret that we love our two oldest's hair. For years we have embraced their surfer/rock/teen pop star hair do. We can even be accused of letting it go a little too long and getting a little too unruly. Shock.Gasp. It is true!

Can you blame us, they are so handsome!


However, it was time for a little change. Oldest had been getting some unwanted attention for his hair, and though I don't think it really bothered him, he had mentioned several times he would like a different hair cut.

We took everyone to go and get their haircuts and I decided that instead of telling them to let it stay long and just get it out of their eyes and make it less mullet like...I said, "I would like something clean cut, more little gentleman...but don't bring out the buzzers!"

As soon as they were done with Oldests and the 5 lbs of hair lay on the floor, he saw the reflection of himself in the mirror and grinned from ear to ear. Yep, he was happy with his new do.

Even though I was shocked, so was I...what do you think?


I know not the best picture, but the only time I had time to do a photo shoot was at basketball.

Now middle of course got his own little gentleman hair cut too. He loves it. He kept looking in the mirror and saying, "my hair is handsome"..."I am handsome". I completely agree!


Now that you have seen the hair cuts intermixed with some basketball, let's talk about basketball.

Oldest and Middle are enjoying, for the most part, their basketball experience. Oldest is way more aggressive in basketball than he was in soccer, but I think he enjoys soccer more.

He is learning more and more every game. He is hustling and dribbling and he is quite the shot.




Excuse the dark/bluriness of some of the photos...the settings on my camera weren't working very well. Plus I was so enthralled with Oldest's game that I was taking horrible pictures.

What a cute little gentleman.


Middle is also quite the hustler...when he is in the mood of course.


This is my favorite stance of his...this is when they are getting ready to play defense. They all rush to the end of the court, throw their hands up, and wait to defend the player with the matching wrist band.


Dribbling is pretty optional at this level, but he is pretty good to give it a couple bounces before he runs towards the basket.


Like any little boy, he loves to get off a shot.


His favorite part of basketball...the snack at the end of the game.


Now we have covered hair cuts and basketball...let's talk BIRTHDAY!

Today is Hubby's birthday. I must give a shout out to my awesome husband. He is pretty much the best. I am lucky to have him in my life and I am so grateful he is the daddy to our Little Men.

We love him so much. Today we will be pampering him, breakfasting in bed, making a dinner he requested from pinterest, and of course there will be desert.


In recognition of his birthday, I wanted to share one of my favorite stories of Hubby. This last summer, just before we moved from Ohio. We were spending sometime at his parents. During the summer, the hammock is a much coveted and look forward to event.

Hubby got on and soon all the boys wanted to get on with him.

Hubby plus 3 boys and a rotten tree equals this...


A suddenly falling hammock, a crash to the ground, and the end of hammock time equals this...

that is middle crying his eyes out 

A good father in action plus some skills equals this...


I loved that he did that. Just more proof of the superman I married.

So today Hubby...take it easy and have a great birthday!

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