Pinterest Christmas

My dearest Honey is beginning to dread the words “so I saw this cool thing on Pinterest,” likely because he’s come to expect me to completely obsess be inspired to do yet another project. Miss L’s birthday party may have been one such project. And Christmas just may be another.

Before Thanksgiving, I was talking to Honey about our need to replace the 10-year-old Christmas tree. “You know,” I said, “I’m really tempted to just leave all the ornaments in the attic this year and just start fresh.” And he said, “Okay.” Which I interpreted as “go right ahead.”

Whether that was his intention or not is completely irrelevant. What is important is that I consulted him on color scheme (“If I were going to change things up, would you rather do this or this?”) and I did my best to do it on the cheap. That meant having my oldest pull anything out of the attic that worked with the new colors (silver, white and aqua, with a touch of red) and scouring Target, TJ Maxx, Marshalls and Home Goods for inexpensive decor items I could use. Oh and of course making a few things, too.

Want to see?

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Oh Christmas Tree. Tree and many ornaments from Target (mostly the shatterproof kind since the tree is situated in the middle of the greyhound’s indoor track aka the dining room) but also some from Home Goods etc. and our existing stash. Ribbon garland from Hobby Lobby (50% off). Star from that W place. Tree skirt made by me.

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Coffee table. Candleholder thingy from Home Goods; candles from my stash.

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Dining room light fixture. Most of the ornaments from the attic. Snowflake/crystal drops from TJ Maxx. Bow ornaments from Target.

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End table in the living room. Silvered glass tree from TJ Maxx. Glitter house from Hobby Lobby, painted and glittered by me. Tiny tree from attic.

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Foyer. Holiday sign a free printable I found on Pinterest. Brush tree from Marshalls. Ornaments and garland from Target.

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Foyer light fixture. This is seriously one of my favorite touches! Paper star from Home Goods ($4!!) with stash ribbon added.

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Stair railing leading up to the living room. Stockings made by me (aqua feather wale cord from my stash + Platinum Delovely Damask from Antiquity by Michael Miller). Garland from Michaels (60% off).

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We have a sort of half wall along one side of the dining room and where the stairs come up, open to the foyer. It needed something but it couldn’t be anything that could fall off the ledge since it likely would end up broken thanks to either us or the cats. I made a really simple banner garland with more of the damask fabric and a glittery aqua ric rac (Hobby Lobby, 50% off). It’s hung with some of those removable 3M hooks with more of the Target ornament bows to hide the hooks.

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Fireplace hearth and mantel. Seasons Greetings garland, mini trees and pots we had (I freshened up the pots with some white paint). Ornament garland from Home Goods. Silvered tree and glass owl from Marshalls.

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Schrank in the kitchen. A work in progress. Wreath, stands and ornaments we already had. The “gifts” are wrapped boxes I had on hand. Glass owl from Marshalls. Banner garland made by me.

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Kitchen sink window. Mason jar we had; I just added candy canes from Target. Silver glitter snowflakes also from Target and hung with monofilament thread, suspended from monofilament thread strung on two 3M hooks. Lighted garland from the attic.

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Kitchen cabinets dressed up with ribbon (50% off at Hobby Lobby). I used tiny clothespins (Joann) to clip the Christmas cards we received to the ribbon. It took two rolls of ribbon to add it to all the tall upper cabinet doors (8 total) and we’ve just about filled them with cards.

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Tree in my studio. I’ve had it three years and this year decorated it with the items I made for L’s birthday party. The tree skirt is my design (created for the FreeSpirit booth at Quilt Market with different fabric).

We had a few friends over for a casual open house, which of course meant I did a little cooking:

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Tablecloth from Home Goods. Table runner made by me with a different colorway of the damask fabric. Centerpiece put together with silver tray and candles we had (I Mod Podged glitter on the pillar) and votive holders from Target. You can see more of the food on Flickr, if you’re interested.

Meatball Memories

It’s amazing how the most random comments can evoke memories. Some online friends were talking about meatballs yesterday and I had a sudden craving for my Mom’s meatballs.

My mom made the best meatballs ever. I remember watching her fry them up on the stove, putting each batch on a plate layered with paper towels so they could drain before getting dunked into the sauce. We’d all sneak into the kitchen to snatch a still-warm meatball off the plate, usually getting caught. Oh, but it was worth it.

The Christmas before my mom got sick, she gave me a cookbook she’d found, a reprint of the one she’d learned to cook from. It’s definitely not health food! It was originally published in 1950 and is filled with tips for entertaining as well as pictures of how to do basic cooking skills like frying an egg.

I dug out the cookbook today and quickly jotted down the ingredients before running to the grocery store. Tonight we’ll have meatball subs (we had baked spaghetti on Monday; I think the family will mutiny if we have pasta again this week) and maybe a little reminiscing, too.

Meat Balls (excerpted from Betty Crocker’s Picture Cook Book, ca. 1950)

Mix and form into 1-1/2″ balls …

3/4 lb. ground beef
1/4 lb. ground pork
1 cup fine dry bread crumbs
1/2 cup grate Parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. minced parsley
2 small garlic cloves, cut fine
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs, beaten
1-1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper

Pan-fry until browned in 4 Tbsp. hot fat…

1 cup minced onion
the meat balls

What’s Cookin’

I love to cook. Always have. Somewhere in storage, there’s a picture of me — no more than nine years old — with a bowl and sign proclaiming “Mary’s Famous Tuna Salad.” Didn’t know I was so modest, did you? ha ha ha ha!

Before I forget … the disaster cake came, in part, from a wonderful, wonderful book called The Whimsical Bakehouse. I have all three of their books and find them to be just wonderful. If I ever get a chance to type up the recipes, I’d be happy to share them but I can’t even guess when that might happen. Anyway. You can see one of my first TWB creations here, if you’re interested.

My family loves desserts and loves breakfast. Beyond that, it’s sometimes impossible to get everyone to agree on the same meal. There are maybe two vegetables everyone eats. Honey doesn’t care for the combination of meat and anything sweet. My oldest likes pretty much nothing. It certainly makes cooking a less pleasant task, since inevitably someone’s going to be unhappy with what’s put before him/her.

I think that’s what has made tonight’s dinner one of my favorites. Everyone likes it. So much so that we rarely have leftovers, even when I double the recipe. It’s from the April 2008 issue of Cooking Light magazine. Gnocchi with Chicken Sausage, Bell Pepper and Fennel. Kind of surprising that I like it, since I’m not a fan of licorice. And I’m really the only one who eats the pepper. It’s become a regular on our table and I’m hoping no one gets burned out on it, since it’s also fast to prepare. I do omit the parsley and use a chicken-and-apple sausage carried by my local grocery store. On occasion, I use whole wheat gnocchi instead. I can’t tell much of a difference in the flavor, although the boys do — but they still like it. I think you will, too.

Gnocchi with Chicken Sausage, Bell Pepper and Fennel

1 (16-ounce) package vacuum-packed gnocchi (such as Vigo)
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
6 ounces basil, pine nut, and chicken sausage (such as Gerhard’s), casing removed and sliced
1 cup thinly sliced fennel
1 cup thinly sliced red bell pepper
1 cup thinly sliced onion
1/2 cup (2 ounces) freshly grated Asiago cheese
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Cook the gnocchi according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Drain the gnocchi in a colander over a bowl, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid. Keep gnocchi warm.2. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sausage to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently. Remove sausage from skillet using a slotted spoon.

3. Heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in pan. Add fennel, bell pepper, and onion to pan; cook 13 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add sausage, gnocchi, cheese, black pepper, and reserved cooking liquid to pan; cook 1 minute or until cheese melts, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; stir in parsley.


Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 1/2 cups)