give-away day is here!

*this give-away is now closed… check back later today for the winner!

Hi everyone, and thanks for stopping by! Give-away day is fast becoming an annual favorite and I’m so excited to go and see what all the other bloggers are giving away today! Check out this link for a list of all the participating blogs – there are lots, so settle in with a cup of tea for a couple of fun hours of blog surfing!

As for my corner of cyberland I have a fun little gift to give out to one lucky reader. A festive set of eight handmade coasters! These coasters are so cute and could be made up in so many different color combinations that I highly recommend making some for any and all special occasions! Click here, here, or here for some great links to make up a similar batch of your own… But first, leave a comment to this post sharing your favorite holiday treat for your chance to win this lovely set! All you need to do is leave a comment by Sunday, December 6th and then I’ll randomly select a comment from the entries and announce the winner here on Monday, December 7th!

Until then, I thought it would be fun to post some recipes for my favorite holiday drinks as nothing begs for a festive drink more than festive coasters! So without further ado, here are my top three favorite holiday beverages!

Eggnog

serves 12

Ingredients
4 cups milk
5 whole cloves
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
12 egg yolks
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 1/2 cups light rum
4 cups light cream
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Directions
1. Combine milk, cloves, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, and cinnamon in a saucepan, and heat over lowest setting for 5 minutes. Slowly bring milk mixture to a boil.
2. In a large bowl, combine egg yolks and sugar. Whisk together until fluffy. Whisk hot milk mixture slowly into the eggs. Pour mixture into saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly for 3 minutes, or until thick. Do not allow mixture to boil. Strain to remove cloves, and let cool for about an hour.
3. Stir in rum, cream, 2 teaspoon vanilla, and nutmeg. Refrigerate overnight before serving.

Creamy Hot Cocoa

serves 4

Ingredients
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup white sugar
1 pinch salt
1/3 cup boiling water
3 1/2 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup half-and-half cream

Directions
Combine the cocoa, sugar and pinch of salt in a saucepan. Blend in the boiling water. Bring this mixture to an easy boil while you stir. Simmer and stir for about 2 minutes. Watch that it doesn’t scorch. Stir in 3 1/2 cups of milk and heat until very hot, but do not boil! Remove from heat and add vanilla. Divide between 4 mugs. Add the cream to the mugs of cocoa to cool it to drinking temperature.

*Add a candy-cane to each mug for peppermint hot cocoa, or add a cinnamon stick or two with the cocoa, sugar and salt to make Mexican hot cocoa (remove cinnamon stick before serving).

Caroling Wine

serves 8

Ingredients
1 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups pineapple juice
1 cup orange juice
6 whole cloves
3 whole allspice berries
2 cinnamon stick
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups red wine
2 oranges
8 cinnamon sticks, garnish

Directions
1. In a large non-aluminum saucepan, combine water, brown sugar, pineapple juice, and orange juice. Season with cloves, allspice, 2 cinnamon sticks and salt. Cut the rind of 2 oranges into strips and stir into the mixture. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and let simmer for 15 minutes.
2. Pour in the wine. Heat to just boiling and remove from heat. Serve hot with a cinnamon stick for garnish.

lucky number 4!

Thanks everyone that shared their favorite birthday cake… I can’t believe how popular confetti/funfetti cakes are! I am please to announce that the winner of my little give-away is none other than my dear friend Shannon! It’s ironic that Shannon is the winner as her blogging is what inspired me to start my own blog! So, congrats dear friend and you can expect a fun little package to come your way in the next few days…

As for the rest of you, (and Shannon too!) there is going to be yet another chance for you to win some great giveaways coming up on December 2nd as Sew Mama Sew will be hosting the second annual Give-away Day! Yours truly will be participating along with lots of other great bloggers. You can find all the details here where participating blogs will be listed along with links to their give-aways. I hope you all can give them a good perusal – last year was a ton of fun and I’m sure this year will be even better!

one year

I can’t believe that today marks the one year point of this cozy little corner of the blogosphere I call my own. Thanks so much to all of you who have taken this journey with me – what a gift it has been to share some crafty fun, recipes, musings and anything else that has come to mind with you! So, today in order to celebrate I thought I’d share with you my very favorite cake, compliments of a dear friend from our time in Rochester, NY. It’s delicious and full of wonderful spices, baked apples, pecans and then topped off with a warm caramel sauce. A-mazing. Won’t you bake one up and light a candle to celebrate with me? You won’t be sorry, I promise!

Carrie’s Scrumptious Apple Goodness Cake

Ingredients

2 ½ cups all purpose organic flour
1 ¼ teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups sugar
3 large free-range eggs
1 ½ teaspoons vanilla
3 tablespoons orange juice
3 Granny Smith Apples, peeled and cut into ½ inch chunks (3 ¼ c.). Really should be a sour apple- cuts the sweetness
1 cup pecans, chopped
1 tablespoon flour
½ cup unsalted organic butter
¼ cup organic whipping cream
1 cup light brown sugar, packed

Directions

CAKE:
1. Place rack in the center of the oven
2. Preheat to 350 (F)
3. Generously grease and flour bundt pan (can also be muffin tin, change time, obviously)
4. Sift together 2 ½ c. of flour spices, and baking soda and set aside
5. Put vegetable oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla in large mixer bowl, Beat until thick and smooth
6. Add sifted ingredients and orange juice to wet mixture; mix to combine
7. Toss apples and pecans with 1 T. flour, then stir into batter
8. Transfer to pan and flatten the top
9. Bake until toothpick comes out clean- about 1 hour and let cool.

…While cooling, prepare glaze

GLAZE:
1. Bring all glaze ingredients to a boil in small pan and cook for 3 minutes.
2. Watch VERY carefully, as the sugar will switch from perfect to burnt quickly.

Once the cake has cooled, drizzle a good amount of the caramel over the cake, but be sure to reserve some to spoon over individual slices as you pass them out… It is very rich, but oh so good. Enjoy!

Wait! There’s more!!!

Because no party is complete without presents I have a giveaway for you!!! All you need to do to win this lovely pouch filled with a tissue holder and reusable coffee cuff is to leave a comment on this post by Novemeber 30 sharing what type of birthday cake is your favorite (feel free to include a recipe if you’d like!). Then, I’ll randomly select an entry on December 1 and announce the winner on the blog.

Thanks again everyone for sharing in this journey with me. I hope it is as life giving for you as it is for me. And I’m so excited to see what the next year will hold!

spring cleaning

Happy first day of spring! It’s still pretty cold and wet here in Vancouver, but I can’t help but feel excited about the prospect of new beginnings and warmer days that accompany this time of year. So, to celebrate I have two things to share with you today. First, a poem by Robert Frost in celebration of Spring.

A Prayer in Spring

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.

Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.

And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.

For this is love and nothing else is love,
To which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends he will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.

I love the idea of staying present and grateful for life today, and remaining in “the springing of the year” (isn’t that a great phrase?) instead of darting off to future worries. Frost can be a bit sarcastic at times, but this poem seems quite transparent and genuine and I found myself resonating deeply with it.

The second bit I wanted to share with you is a quick little project that I created with my trusty Adobe Photoshop software – I love Adobe! Anyway, last year J and I endeavored to live a more sustainable lifestyle, and we kept track of our journey through this blog. Well, we’re still holding fast to the lessons we learned throughout the year and just recently I finally made up some cute labels to go with our homemade cleaning supplies as I was forever having to look-up the recipes whenever we need to restock our stores. The labels make it super easy to whip together another batch of all-purpose cleaner or furniture polish – and they are stylish to boot! These recipes are all natural and non-toxic so you won’t fill your nicely cleaned home with harsh chemicals that are nasty for you and the environment. They are also much cheaper than the natural cleaning products for sale in the shops and since you are making them you can customize the scents to suit your preferences. What could be better than that?

cleaning-supplies

Want to make some of your own? Just click on the PDF link “cleaning-recipes” to download and then print the sheet out on a page of sticker paper, attach to reusable spray bottles, mix up the recipe and you’ll be good to go! Hope you enjoy!

cleaning-recipes

cleaning-recipes-copy