A Little Claire-ification

bright ideas for the busy & budget minded…

The Holidays At Home – Best of The Weekend #5

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Happy Monday and welcome to the “Best Of The Weekend #5”!!  This one going up a bit later than usual today but, hey.

I was wrapping gifts.   (< — she’s lying)

Rats, foiled again!  Well I hope that you are all finished with your shopping because I, for one, am waaaayyyyy behind, this year.  And I will get it done online very soon but I keep getting distracted by wonderful posts like these below!!!

Alright, you know the drill so here we go, in no particular order – a handful of my favorites from this past week!!   As always, if you are featured or have been featured in the past, feel free to grab the button above and proudly flaunt it on your site.  I will be posting this on FB as well, so come on over and “Like” my page so I will know you saw it!  🙂

Edible Snowflakes @ The Mandatory Mooch

How beautiful are these??  And Nichi gives a great tutorial on how to make them.  I think these would look beautiful on any holiday treat platter!!

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100 Top “Dollar Tree” Decorating Ideas @ Fox Hollow Cottage

Ok, Christmas is about giving and, while my “Best Of The Weekend” normally highlights approx. 10 great posts.. this is like a little gift INSIDE a gift.  A little “nesting doll” (of 100 extra ideas!!) if you will. 😉   And Shannon’s rhymes for each entry made me laugh the entire time I was looking through this post.  Not to mention… HOLY cheap holiday decorating, Batman!  I have not gotten over to the new Dollar Tree that opened recently and I see a trip in my very near future.  As in 10AM tomorrow.

http://www.foxhollowcottage.com/2012/12/over-100-dollar-tree-Christmas-DIY-decor-craft-ideas.html

How To Make A Skirt from Ties @ Crystelle Boutique

So you might be thinking “What in the name of Rudolph does this have to do with the holidays?!?”  Well, I’ll tell ya’.  I want everyone to make one for meeeee for Christmas, that’s what!  LOL  I thought this was just awesome.  And how easy are ties to find at thrift stores??  Love this!   It is actually a really cute gift idea for any eclectic friends or hard to please teens.  😉

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Peanut Butter Christmas Trees @ Sweet Simple Stuff

Brenda had me at Reese’s… and another fun one to make with kids.  I, however, opt to make them alone so that nobody knows exactly how many are missing…

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Book Page Christmas Trees @ Alderberry Hill

The beautiful Miss Sarah is always hopping over there at Alderberry Hill!  I don’t sleep much over here but I am starting to think she might have a clone with as much as she has going on!! 🙂  Here is Sarah’s take on Book Page Christmas Trees  – I just  L-O-V-E the bases!!  Now I am not sure we have any “unused” books in our house, but I do see them all the time for less than $1 at thrift stores so that will be easy enough to find!!  Thanks busy lady!!

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{DIY} Pom-Pom Wreath @ Life In Grace

This is such a fun craft posted by an even more amazing gal!!!  To say that Edie is one of the most inspirational bloggers I have ever come across would be such a major understatement.  Right up there with “The sun is hot” and “I like cute shoes”. (Duh).  Whether Edie knows it or not, she has single handedly changed the way I look at life, one post at a time (and she was most likely wearing awesome cowboy boots the whole time!).   Edie and her family lost everything in a house fire just days before Christmas 2010…  her family’s journey to rebuild their home and their lives, as well as her faith in God, is just too hard to describe in words.  {Caveat Salutor (“Visitor beware”):   By clicking the link below, you acknowledge that you may spend hours on Edie’s site lost in all of her amazing posts and wonder where all that time went…  😉 }

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Ornament Display @ The Sweet Survival

Ok who else has a gazillion extra ornaments they bought at half off over the years???  Or am I just the only one with a problem here?  Hmmm.  Well if you DO have some extra ornaments, this display by Trisha is Ahh-DORABLE.

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Pecan-Praline Cheesecakes @ Crazy For Crust

Is there anything that Dorothy posts that doesn’t make me want to just lick the screen?  I daresay, “NO. No there is not”.   Girl may be “crazy for crust” but her recipes and beautiful photos are INSANE.  Keep ’em coming, Dorothy.  I’ll be fat and happy in my straight jacket… 😉

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DIY Mercury Glass Ornaments @ The Frugal Homemaker

I SO love mercury glass.  These are gorgeous!! Thanks Christina – I need to find my 40% off Hob-Lob coupon ASAP!!

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{FREE} Video Message From Santa @ Portable North Pole {PNP}

This one is not a blog but I cannot say enough about how cute this is and how much my kids have enjoyed this for three years in a row – I had to share!  This is also not a sponsored link, and I can tell you that the guys at PNP also do NOT spam after you make a video.  This past year I got three emails.  One that included the link to the video I created.  One telling me my 2011 video was about to expire (maybe around March?).  And one about a month ago reminding me to create a new video for 2012 (thank GOD because I would have forgotten!).  Love this and it’s super easy, too – it only takes about 5 minutes or so.  Again, while they do offer some packages you can purchase, the basic video is free! (PS: Unless your child is an absolute SAINT, I recommend choosing the “Naughty/Nice” video.  Talk about keeping them on their toes!!)  (PSS: Since it’s a video template, I show my children their “videos from Santa” separately).

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Hope you are all inspired by some of these great posts! Have a great week!

xoxo,

Claire

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The Holidays At Home – Best Of The Weekend #4

I hope that everyone had a great weekend!  I know a lot of people said they were in “full-on decorating mode” so can’t wait to see more decorations, pictures and great ideas from your homes.

Ahhh.  The “Holidays at Home”.  There is something to be said for not traveling and just staying put for the holidays, right?  Snuggling up.  Hunkering down.  Nesting.  Whatever you want to call it…  it’s just so nice to wake up on Christmas morn in your own bed and thoroughly enjoy the day with family, isn’t it?

This past week I read more beautiful, inspiring posts.  Posts that just made me want to sit in our big, over-sized comfy chair and wrap up in a blanket and drink hot cocoa while listening to holiday music in front of a beautiful fireplace.  And, if you recall, I live in Florida, so that says a lot!   I love posts that inspire!  SO much talent out there.

So once more – in no particular order – a handful of my favorites from this past week.  If you are featured or have been featured in the past, feel free to grab the button above and proudly flaunt it on your site.  I will be posting this on FB as well, so come on over and “Like” my page so I will know you saw it!  🙂

A Beautiful Christmas Mantel @ The Lilypad Cottage

I just came across Kelly’s blog this past week.  I love this mantel.  You will see that I like a lot of mantels. Kelly also has a lovely “Home Tour” on her blog too!

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Homemade Vanilla @ Love Pomegranate House

This is a GREAT holiday gift idea  and I love good vanilla!!  Thanks Talitha!

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Sweet Candy Cane Sauce @ Echoes of Laughter

What an easy and sweet gift idea Angie has posted!  I can just imagine this over ice cream!  Yum, yum, yum!

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Easy Vintage Holiday Decorating @ Number Fifty-Three

First of all – our main tree is all greens and blues and silvers this year so I am WAYYY in love with the look of these vintage ornaments and the way Angela has used candlesticks to display them.  This one is definitely something I have to try out!  Beautiful!

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Hanging Greenery Pouch @ Under The Table & Dreaming

I think these would make a beautiful hostess gift!  So pretty and what a great way to recycle cardboard paper towel rolls! Think I will be using some of that extra burlap I have to make a few of these!  Thanks Stephanie Lynn!

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Tufted Wool Wreath {Anthropologie Knock Off} @ It’s Overflowing

I love great knock offs.  I love Anthropologie. And I LOVE that Aimee gives a video tutorial on making easy pom-pom balls.

That’s a lot of love.

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12 Days of Christmas “6 Geese A-Laying” Ornament @ 52 Mantels

It’s almost too hard to describe.  But as Emily says in her post “Feathers. Pearls. Glitter. Burlap. Lace. Yep, it’s all there.”

Too much fun – as is doing an ornament for each of the 12 days!

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Printable Reindeer Food Box @ A Typical English Home

This is so cute.  My kids love to sprinkle “reindeer food” on the front lawn on Christmas Eve (for us that is usually a mix of oats and glitter!) so I will have to print this one so we can have “official” reindeer food this year!

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Memory Ornaments @ Calico & Cupcakes

This was actually posted in October but I just stumbled across it this past weekend.  What a wonderful idea to do with your kids or even just an annual tradition with your significant other – place all of the best memories from the past year into a keepsake ornament.  I love this!

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No-Sew Ruffled Tree Skirt @ I Heart Naptime

This is an adorable project and no sewing machine required!  Think of all the fun patterns and textures you can mix up! Thanks Jamielyn!

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Hope you all have fun looking through these creative ideas and if you make any of them, make sure to send me a picture!  I may have to go back and do “reader side-by-sides”!   Have a great week and stay inspired!

xoxo

Claire

8 Comments »

30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 29 – Easy Chocolate Peppermint Truffles

Did ya’ miss me?  I am still playing catch up after traveling for Thanksgiving since we stayed a few days after the holiday.  It was wonderful to see our Boston based family and to spend time with old friends and to even meet some new ones!   And yet there is no place like home.

Today I am thankful for my very own comfy bed.   I am also very thankful for safe travels and I hope any of you or your families that were traveling for the holiday are also home safe and sound.

Now let’s talk turkey truffles.  Mmmm.  Truffles.  Oh how I do love truffles.  We often cook up some delicious savory dishes using our (precious) little bottle of truffle oil.

In fact, for Christmas I want my own little pet French pig that can go root around in the dirt and give me a never ending supply of those expensive little things!  (Reality check:   A) I don’t think the City will allow that and B) Like I really need one more “piggy” to feed with three boys!?).   A girl can dream.

Today, however, I am talking sweet truffles.   Those decadent little ganache filled, chocolatey balls of to-die-for yumminess that are sure to bring sheer joy to anyone lucky enough to receive them (sorry. it’s the holidays. you have to share).

There are all kinds of sweet truffle recipes out there ranging from the most simple to the the extremely advanced.  And these are pretty easy so don’t worry.  You got this.  The hardest part is melting the white chocolate, if using.  Not to mention, these will keep refrigerated for 2-3 weeks so make them ahead of time and wow everyone at your next holiday gathering!

You will see some “optional” items on the ingredients list.  I encourage you to read through the whole recipe and you can decide which style of truffle(s) you want to make.  Some have chocolate coating (both white and dark) and I coated some with just cocoa powder or confectioner’s sugar.  I like gifting a variety, but you can also just pick one style and go with that if you prefer.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound (8 oz.) bittersweet chocolate (I like the depth of flavor that this adds but you can just use semi-sweet if that is what you have)
  • 1/2 pound  (8 oz.) semi-sweet chocolate (if you have a bag of chips, those are fine too – see how easy I am??)
  • 1 cup heavy cream (sorry, you cannot substitute skim milk here)
  • 1 tablespoon prepared coffee
  • 1/2 teaspoon good vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp peppermint extract (or 2 tbsp. peppermint schnapps) (even this is optional – you can skip the peppermint if you want)
  • 14 – 16 oz. chocolate or baking pieces for coating (I used 6-7 oz. white baking chocolate, finely chopped  – and 6-7 oz, semi-sweet chips; Definitely use really good white chocolate bars like Lindt as opposed to chips OR use white melting pieces like Wilton; standard white chips do not melt very easily)
  • 2 candy canes, crushed (I put mine in a ziploc bag and used a kitchen mallet)
  • Confectioners’ sugar for coating, if desired
  • Cocoa powder for coating, if desired

Directions

Chop both the bittersweet & semisweet chocolate finely (if you are using semi-sweet chips or baking pieces, you’re now ahead) and place into a heat-proof mixing bowl.  Set aside.

Heat the cream in a small saucepan until it just comes to a boil. Do not walk away for long.  Do not pass go. (DO collect $100 if someone happens to be handing it out in your kitchen).  Otherwise you will be cleaning up a frothy hot mess all over your stove top.   Turn off the heat and allow the cream to sit for about 30 seconds. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate.   Using a whisk, slowly stir the chocolate until it is completely melted.

Add in the coffee (which really enhances the richness of the chocolate) and the vanilla and combine.  Congratulations, you just made chocolate ganache!  Add in the peppermint extract, if using, and combine.  You can even get crazy and split the mixture in half at this point and do half peppermint (half the peppermint extract) and half just chocolate.  I present you with endless possibilities.  Either way, set the mixture aside at room temperature for about 1 hour then refrigerate for 1-2 hours (or cover and leave overnight) until very firm.

Depending on how long you let the ganache chill, you might need to let it sit out a few minutes.  Using a small scoop or melon baller (or even 2 teaspoons if that is what you have), spoon round balls of the cold chocolate mixture onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Quickly work each scoop of chocolate in your hands to make a round ball.  It’s like adult play-dough.  I love it.  If the ganache gets too soft to work with, return to the fridge to chill again.  Place the tray back into the fridge while you melt the chocolate coating.

(FYI – I could probably stop right here and just eat all of the chocolate ganache balls “as-is” but, for the sake of posterity, I will carry on)

At this point, I work with one chocolate at a time for the coating.  I started with the white.

The white chocolate factor is the only tricky part to this recipe.  Place the chopped white chocolate in the top of a double boiler or in a small to medium heat proof bowl over a pan with an inch or two of water.  You don’t want the water to touch the bottom of the bowl, so that can be your guide as to how much water to add.   Start to bring the water to a boil and stir the white chocolate until it is melted and glossy.  White chocolate is temperamental – you do not want it to get too hot or it will seize up into a clump and there is no going back.  Also, if you get just one drop of water in the white chocolate, it will most likely clump.  If you are using white baking pieces (ie: Wilton – easier, for sure), you can microwave in 30 sec increments and just be sure to stir in between each time!!).  The microwave can also be used for white chocolate but I am telling you in advance it takes some practice and a lot of stirring in between.  Once the chocolate is slightly cooled for a few minutes, remove the ganache balls from the fridge and start dipping.  You will want your candy cane pieces or sprinkles ready as well.  Using a teaspoon, dip each ball into the white chocolate until coated.  8 oz. of chocolate will cover about 1/2 of the balls. (25-30 ish).  Again, since I coated some with just cocoa powder or confectioner’s sugar, I used less of both the white and semi-sweet chocolate coating.

Here I have my candy cane, cocoa powder, powdered sugar and even some sprinkles all ready to go!  And a paintbrush.  Yes, I was going to stripe some of the white coated truffles but ran out of time.  Maybe tomorrow.  Or maybe next Christmas. 😉

While the chocolate is still setting, place some peppermint pieces or sprinkles into the truffles for decoration.  I even dusted a few of the white chocolate ones with a sprinkle of cocoa powder.  Get creative!  Place the tray back into the fridge to chill again.

Now, repeat the exact same process with the semi-sweet chocolate.   Once all of the truffles were coated and chilled again, I placed them into mini holiday cupcake liners.

This normally yields approx. 60 truffles.  This time I ended up with about 50.  I think I made a handful or so larger than usual.  Casualties.  Guess I’ll just have to eat those…  😉

Won’t Martha Stewart be so proud of you??

Again, you can store these in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 weeks as needed.  Enjoy!

xoxo,

Claire


Linking Up To Some Fabulous Parties… 

Christmas Inspiration Party @ Top This, Top That

Sundae Scoop @ I Heart Naptime

Make The Scene Monday @ Alderberry Hill

Mop It Up Mondays @ I Should Be Mopping The Floor

Foodtastic Friday @ Not Your Ordinary Recipes

Shine On Fridays @ One Artsy Mama

One Creative Weekend @ One Creative Mommy

Creative Timeout Party @ Mom On Timeout

Wow UsWednesday @ Savvy Southern Style

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30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 19 – Delicious Butter “Silk” Tart (my FB Contest Entry!)

Happy Monday!  Wish I could have gotten this out sooner but it was not to be.  That’s ok.  I know some of you are night owls like me so maybe I’m just really early!!  🙂

Today I am thankful (as always) for my sweet Husband.  It was another crazy work day for me.  So many deadlines before the holiday and then preparing to come back into projects right after… I need strength.  Or at least more caffeine.   My sweet man has been working tirelessly all day going through the last boxes and tools that need to be organized to get our garage finished.  He’s such an amazing help and is always calm when I get frazzled and feel like my head might explode.

And all of his organizing was amidst Littlest & Middlest “bouncing off the walls” since it’s holiday break.  The Oldest must be so happy that he can finally drive right about now.  I considered texting him 4 little words as he was about to leave to “hang out at Chik-Fil-A” (or do some other important teenager thing):

“Take. Me. With. You.”

Anyway, we made it through another Monday and now here’s the Butter “Silk” Tart!   This yummy custard tart recipe replaces buttermilk with “Silk” vanilla soy milk and there is NO skimping on flavor!  I used a round tart pan but if you just have a pie pan to work with, you will be just fine!

The background story:

Recently, I got an email that “Silk” was hosting a recipe contest.   I am not a vegetarian, but we absolutely love “Silk” Soy Milk – both Vanilla & Chocolate – around here.  And I am not getting paid to say this (I wish!) so when I saw this contest, I thought it might be fun to replace the buttermilk in one of my favorite recipes with Vanilla “Silk”.   Long story short, I signed up for the (again, non-sponsored) contest on the “Silk” FB page!  If you can take just an eensy second to vote for my recipe it would just make my day  month.  I really want to win that $1000 to put towards The Oldest’s upcoming college tuition!  Oy!    Anyway it’s reeeeally simple – all you do is go to the “Silk” Facebook page and click “Like” (if you never have before) and then click on the “Recipe contest” icon, then vote on the “Delicious Butter “Silk” Tart by Claire” entry (as opposed to the “Delicious Butter”Silk” Pie by Claire –  yes, I am clearly a scatter-brained goofball and accidentally called it a pie instead of a “tart” ANNNND the correct entry is now somehow showing twice so just vote for the middle one as I am going to see if they can’t delete the last duplicate entry).  ::sighs::   I am obviously challenged (I promise I am not responsible for any of the voting issues in Florida!).

Anyway, provided they don’t call and ban me from the whole thing for being a dork, and provided that you aren’t snoring by now, thank you (thank you, thank you, thank you) in advance if you can take a minute out of your busy day to do that!!

Wake up!  Back to the recipe.    I personally think that buttermilk pie is better than most custard pies – it’s slightly firmer and tastier in my opinion.  If you like custard pie, you will most likely love this one.  Fun fact:  the mixture of soy milk and a little lemon juice creates a great buttermilk replacement so if you are lactose intolerant, this is the perfect recipe for you!   And if ALL dairy is a problem for you, I am sure you probably have some ideas for replacing the butter in this recipe as well.  I don’t and I should maybe be buried with some fresh bread, cheese and a stick of butter.  And some bacon.  Feel free to share your butter replacement ideas if you have any!

You might remember my easy and super savory tart / pie crust recipe from my “Green Onion & Goat Cheese Tart”?  Well this Butter”Silk” tart  incorporates my favorite sweet pie tart crust recipe, which is a take off of Martha Stewart’s pâte sucrée (AKA “sweet pie dough”).

The Ingredients

For The Tart Dough:

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour

3 tbsp sugar

1 cup (2 sticks) chilled, unsalted butter, cut into cubes

2 large egg yolks

1/4 cup ice water

 

For The Filling:

 4 egg yolks at room temperature

1 cup of sugar

2/3 cup flour

¼ tsp. salt

6 tbsp butter, melted

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 cup (less 1 tbsp)  Vanilla “Silk” Soymilk

¼ tsp. baking soda

Making The Tart Dough:

This yields two tart / pie crusts so you will have an extra to freeze for your next recipe or you can double the filling and make two Butter”Silk” tarts!

First, place the flour and the sugar into the bowl of your stand mixer or a food processor.  Process for a few seconds to combine.  Add the chopped butter into the flour mixture and mix or process until the mixtures resembles pea sized crumbs.  This will only take about 10 seconds in a food processor – be careful not to over mix.

In a small bowl, combine the egg yolks and ice water and beat lightly to combine.  With your mixer or food processor running, slowly add the egg mixture JUST until the dough holds together.  About 30 seconds.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide in half, forming two discs  Do not over work the dough.  The chunks of butter staying intact will produce a flakier tart  Wrap each tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour before baking.

Once thoroughly chilled, roll out one disc of your tart dough on a lightly floured surface.  It is really important to work with chilled tart dough so if you are rushed or busy, do not skip that step!

Lay the dough into the pan and form the dough into your tart or pie shell.

Once formed, place your dough lined pan back into the fridge and chill again while your oven heats.  {Make ahead tip: If you are baking the next day, wrap your formed tart / pie crust extra tightly before chilling overnight}.

Preheat your oven to 400*.

Once your oven is heated, remove the tart shell from the fridge and line with aluminum foil and ceramic pie weights  {Handy tip:  Dried beans can be used as pie weights.  However, as I’ve mentioned in the past, once beans are used as pie weights they cannot be re-used for cooking  / eating, so if you DO use dried beans, grab a mason jar, etc. and recycle them for future use as pie weights in your next recipes}.

Bake the tart shell for 20 minutes then remove the foil and pie weights and bake for 5 minutes more – you want the shell to be a light golden brown.

Making The Filling:

 While the tart is baking, add the lemon juice to a measuring cup;  Add the Vanilla “Silk” until it reaches the “1 Cup” line and stir to combine.  Allow to stand for 10 minutes to thicken slightly.  Add the baking soda to the “Silk” mixture and stir until dissolved.

In the bowl of your mixer, add the eggs and sugar and mix until combined and it is a lemony yellow color;  Mix in the butter, and then add the flour gradually so it does not clump.

Ha!  I happened to also grab a yellow mixing bowl so the egg yolks are almost camouflaged in this picture.  Oh well, there goes my chance at being “The Next Food Network Star” (now I REALLY need help with that college tuition).

Add the “Silk” mixture to the eggs and mix until combined.  This may appear to be slightly curdled – it’s totally fine.   Stay calm.

Place a cookie sheet on the bottom rack of the oven to catch any drippings.  There will be drippings y’all, especially if you are using a tart form.

Pour the filling into the pre-baked tart shell to just 1/4” below the rim of the crust. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes at 400*.

Reduce the heat to 350* and bake for another 25 -30 minutes.

It should be a beautiful golden brown at this point;  The sugar and the “Silk” creates a gorgeous thin crispy, sweet crust over the top.

Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack.   Allow to cool completely (or as long as you can wait!) before releasing from your tart form and serving.

Enjoy!!

Let me know if you get a chance to make this and have a great Thanksgiving week!

xoxo,

Claire

Linking Up to:

Wednesday Extravaganza @ Hungry Little Girl

 

 

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30 Days Of Thankfulness: Day 18 – Best Of The Weekend #2

It’s another beautiful day – chilly and windy but sunny.  I am enjoying my coffee on my back porch watching as the wind blows through the tree branches and makes ripples on the lake.  I don’t see the ducks this morning… probably because they are smarter than I am and are huddled together under a tree somewhere down on the bank, heads tucked in and snoozing.   The water reflecting an amazing palette of greens and some yellows reminds me that we have such an amazing Creator.

“From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the LORD is to be praised”. (Psalm 113:3)

Today I am thankful for another day and for the gift of sight to take it all in.  No matter what your beliefs, if you are sitting in front of a computer or any electronic device reading this, you probably realize that even in the toughest times, we have so much to be thankful for.

Now on to the Best Of The Weekend #2!  I have once again been blown away and so inspired by so many beautiful decorating ideas and delicious recipes I that have seen this past week.  As always, some of these posts may have been posted prior to this week, but they are ones that I have just found and enjoyed so I want to pass them on.  I try to keep it at 10 posts but will break that rule if I ever can’t just narrow it down!  Claire, the little rule breaker.  That’s me.  So here we go in no particular order at all.  If you were featured last week or today, feel free to right click and grab my “Best Of The Weekend” button above and tack it on your post.  Sorry I don’t yet have an official button.  I’ll figure that out some day.

Nesting Place – Fall Decorating With What You Have

The Nester has a beautiful blog and if you haven’t ever stopped by, you really should!  I love this post about using what you already have to subtly “Fall-ify” your home for the holiday.  This is great advice for Christmas as well!

Mom On Timeout – Turtle Thumbprint Cookies

These make me want to lick the screen, y’all.  Trish always has great ideas!

Nap-Time Creations One Yard Summer Dress

Two things. Well ok, three.  First, yes I know it’s almost Winter.  Second, I have three boys so I have to just sit back and wait for the possibility of Granddaughters one day (please let it be at least another 10 years).  Third, how stinking CUTE are these little dresses??  So now you have all Winter to make some for your daughters or Granddaughters.  So adorable.

Miz Helen’s Cauliflower & Goat Cheese Gratin

Ok, sweet Miz Helen had me at “cheese” – this looks so yummy (and also a sneaky way to incorporate some cauliflower in the mix!  Smother it in cheese?  Brilliant!)  Can’t wait to try this one. Miz Helen was also so nice to feature my Chocolate Orange Snickers Cake on her “Full Plate Thursday” post on 11/15.

Junk Chic Cottage – Vintage Holiday Home

I am just in L-O-V-E with every single eensy little detail pictured over at the Junk Chic Cottage.  To say that Kris has a beautiful way with style and interior design is the understatement of the year.

Real Housemoms – Super Juicy, Brined {Roasted} Turkey

Anyone else ever get intimidated by “the bird”?  My experience with brining has always turned out great, juicy turkeys.  Stacey & Aubrey over at Real HouseMoms always have some great recipes and this humorous post links up to a great recipe for a perfectly brined bird every time.  Who’s getting hungry??

One More Time – Sweater Christmas Trees

A funny little story about these… a few weeks back I saw some sweater Christmas trees at Target.  I immediately went and thrifted a few sweaters and even bought a few styrofoam cones.  If you saw my hand-painted Target knock-off holiday pillow a few days back, you know I like to see if I can make it myself!  Then literally the next day I saw THESE little beauties that Tammy over at One More Time posted.  They are SO much more gorgeous than the ones at Target so once I get around to finally making mine, I am happy to say it will be a “One More Time” knock-off instead of Target!  🙂 Thanks Tammy!

Funky Junk Interiors – Holiday Entertaining {With Nature & Junk}

There’s a reason Donna over at Funky Junk Interiors was featured in the FOLK magazine 2012 Christmas issue.  Her ecclectic “junky” style makes me want to go raid every garage sale and thrift store in a 25 mile radius to see what “junk” I can repurpose!

GingerSnap Crafts – Festive Christmas Countdown

This is actually a post from 2011 and I can’t even remember where I just saw it this past week but I bookmarked it because it is too cute!  Ginger gives a great little tutorial on “how to”.

Crazy For Crust – Blueberry Slab Pie

There are so many reasons to love all posts over at Crazy For Crust. I think I gain a pound every time I click on one of Dorothy’s beautiful pictures.  Frankly, it was a toss-up between this and her more recent “Pie Round Up”  post but The Husband loves blueberry and this is on my list to make.

Ok, post-edit here.  I am already breaking the rules but just saw these and MUST.  Share.  So here’s #11:

Hungry Happenings – Cheesy Crescent Roll Leaves

You might have noticed by now that I am a complete SUCKER for cheesy goodness.  How yummy do these look??  And how darling on your Thanksgiving table?  If they even make it to the table…  Thinking I would eat very last one.

Hope you are all feeling the urge to create or bake something fabulous and that you all have a beautiful and inspired Thanksgiving week!  Make sure you comment or throw a picture on my Facebook page and show me what you create or something that inspired you!

xoxo,

Claire

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30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 12 – Best of The Weekend #1

Today, I am very thankful to have “met” so many amazingly talented and sweet bloggers (albeit virtually) over the last 5 weeks.  And of course, thankful to continue being inspired by some that I have followed for almost two years!

 

 

Today is my first ever “Best Of The Weekend” post – a list of 10 blog posts that I read this weekend that inspired me the most-est, even if some were posted prior to the weekend.  DIY projects, fantastic food or recipes, crafts and everything else in between that just tickled my fancy or touched my heart and made me want to bookmark it.   I’ll start by saying that I will probably always have more food posts than anything else because I love to cook and I love to eat good food but I do try to highlight a great variety of things!!

Oh and you should also know – there were WAY (way, way, wayyyy) more than 10 posts that I bookmarked and so enjoyed reading this weekend.  Like, a LOT more, but I have to narrow this down somehow!  Here goes, in no particular order:


Simple Living & Eating: Ground Beef Stroganoff

Not only does this look delish, I was also  touched by Diane’s story about her family being without power for 7 days after “SuperStorm Sandy”.  Her pictures of her family cooking up the contents of their fridge and freezer reminded me of what we went through in FL after Hurricane Charlie with no power for 6 days.  But we weren’t freezing cold!

Fairhope Supply Co. : A Veteran’s Day Story

So glad to have read this today…

Lizy B: Fall Leaf Cookie Tutorial

I am definitely trying these (gorgeous) cookies out ASAP!

Life In Grace: 12 Days of {Handmade} Christmas

All I can say is that I am SO making some of these felt scarves for me AND for gifts.  Talk about adorable AND thrifty!  LOVE!

Country Cleaver: Breakfast Reuben Sandwiches on Pumpernickel English Muffins

Kill me now.  I cannot wait to try these.  I am thinking about Christmas morning with my Dad’s hash browns.  You might see this one again before Christmas!

Living Well Spending Less: Operation Christmas Child

I posted this on Facebook and I will say it again – this is a FANTASTIC way to teach your family about the importance of giving back to those in need!  Ruth gives all of the details out in her great post – check it out and start a new tradition with your kids!

Today’s Creative Blog: Washer Lined Tray

I love this and I know it’s something I could make too!  Pretty darn cute!

Home Is Where The Boat Is:  Mini Pumpkin Pies

I make all kinds of “pumpkin-y” goodness between now and Christmas so these are right up my alley!

Fox Hollow Cottage: Decorating With Thrift Store Finds

Fantastic – I love finding something at a thrift store and turning it into something new!  Great for holidays on a budget!

Life As Mom: Busy Holiday Cooking Plan (Freezer Cooking)

I know – food again!  But, as a working Mom of three boys I have an extra fridge/ freezer AND a chest freezer in my garage – I don’t mess around!   I love to cook and we love to portion things out and freeze them for meals throughout the next few months.  I coupon shop the sales and freeze items for later.  I’ll be posting about this within the week as it pertains to our holiday prep!

I hope you all have a fantastic and blessed week!

xoxo,

Claire

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30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 10 – Green Onion, Goat Cheese & Thyme Tart (YUM!)

Time to make another one of my favorites – my Green Onion, Goat Cheese & Thyme tart!  This is a also a great idea for Thanksgiving or Christmas Day breakfast if you have guests staying.   Hey, you’ll be up getting that turkey ready for dinner anyway!  Might as well have a little something in the bellies to stave off the crowd until Turkey time!  Tips below on what you can prep the night before.

At the time of this writing, there was less than 1/4 of the tart left so I am glad I got pictures!!  Today I am SO thankful for food in our bellies.

I love working with pastry dough, both sweet and savory.  This savory tart is super simple and one that everyone raves about and, once you master a tart like this, you can add so many variations to it and just make it your own.

I started with a basic tart dough (AKA “Pâte Brisée”).  Easiest recipe ever  so don’t for a second think you can’t make it.

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 2 sticks cold butter, chopped into small cubes
  • 1 tsp. each of salt and sugar
  • 1/4 cup of ice water

Once you start working with dough, you will know when to add a few more drops of water if it’s needed until it just comes together. The chunks of butter make it extra flaky.  Combine your dry ingredients in the food processor (you can also use your stand mixer); Add the butter and process until it forms pea sized crumbs (do NOT over process) and slowly add the water in a stream while processing until the dough just comes together.  So important not to over mix so that the butter is still in little chunks.

Once the dough was made I divided it in half, creating two rounds, wrapped them tightly in plastic wrap and I put them back in the fridge to get them good and chilled again.  Always work with cold dough.  Can’t say that enough!

Then, it was ready to roll out on a floured board…

and be laid into the tart pan:

This recipe makes two tart shells:

But for today I was only making one tart, so I wrapped the second tightly and placed it in the fridge, and will make it in the next day or so.  If you have a hungry crowd, however, you can go ahead and double this filling and make both!

 Once in the tart pan, I again covered it tightly with plastic wrap and once again set to chill in the fridge for about 15 more minutes while I started to prepare the filling. (**Make Ahead Tip:  At this point, the tart dough can chill overnight to bake in the morning.   Just make sure it’s wrapped tightly).

Once chilled, line one of the tarts with aluminum foil and place some pie weights in to keep it from rising up too much (you can also use dried beans, but then you can’t cook them later so if you use beans, just save them to recycle as future pie weights!).

Into a 400* oven it goes to pre-bake for 10 minutes.  Reduce the heat to 375*, remove the pie weights and foil and bake until golden – about 15-20 minutes more.

In the meantime, I chopped about 20 scallions, an inch or so in length,  and two cloves of garlic

and grabbed a few sprigs of fresh thyme from our patio garden.

Store bought thyme is fine too but if you DO use dried thyme, just remember that dried herbs are a little stronger than fresh herbs, so use a little less.  Fresh herbs are always best if available, but there are just times (thymes?) when I know it’s not possible!

On medium-high heat, add 1 tbsp of butter to the pan.  Once the butter is melted, toss in:

  • scallions
  • 2 cloves or roughly chopped garlic
  • 1/2 tsp chopped thyme
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock or broth
  • salt and pepper to taste

After a few minutes cooking on high heat, reduce the heat to low and cover;  sauté until the onions are soft – about 15 minutes.

Scallions sautéing with two roughly chopped garlic cloves, thyme and chicken stock:

While those cook down, combine the following in a mixing bowl:

  • 1/4 lb Chevre (goat cheese) – I have also used Manchego, which is delicious so just use your favorite soft cheese.
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 2 eggs

Uncover the green onions and raise the heat to high, stirring until all of the liquid is evaporated – about 3 minutes.

Add the green onion mixture to the goat cheese filling and stir to combine well.  (**Make Ahead Tip:  If baking the next day, cover the filling tightly  once cooled, and refrigerate overnight).

Pour the filling into the partially-baked tart shell and for about 25 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.  One the tart has cooled for about 10 minutes, I removed the tart from the pan.  Hello, gorgeous!

Just yummy, flaky goodness that even the smaller boys enjoyed!   Tarts are perfect for breakfast, lunch OR dinner!

Guess I better go grab a slice before it’s all gone…

Happy Baking!  Be sure to let me know if you make it or tell me about your favorite tart recipe!  I’ll get this posted over on my “Recipes” page soon.

xoxo

Claire

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Linking up to some fabulous parties:

Wonderful Food Wednesday @ At Home Take 2

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30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 6 – Vote For Chocolate Orange Snickers Cake

Happy Election Day!  Did you all write me in for President??  There’s still time!!  😉

Today I am thankful that we live here in the USA and that we have so many freedoms, including the right to vote.

I am also extremely thankful that all of the political ads will end.  #enoughalready

Annnnnd, what could be better after waiting in line for hours to vote than a delicious slice of chocolatey goodness??  Not too many things are coming to mind, actually (although another Bermuda vacation is a close second, however):

{my birthday 2007}

I digress.  Back to the chocolate.

Anyone else out there with too much Halloween candy??  You could really make any variation on this recipe by using Butterfinger or Reese’s Cups, etc. (and with or without the orange – I just love chocolate and orange flavors combined!).

The main things you need to know are that it has fresh orange zest (that’s the healthy part!!):

and chopped up Snickers bars (well, nuts can be healthy too, right?)…

that have been melted with a little heavy cream (um… dairy?).  Ok, that’s a stretch, I know:

Yeah, it is not a dessert for the faint of heart.   It is just oooey chocolatey goodness, y’all.  Wish I could say it were healthy, but this one is not.  All things in moderation.  Just eat little bites. 🙂

Got a little carried away with the Snickers drizzle since Littlest really wanted to help!   So.  Yummy.

The recipe is here – enjoy!!  And I hope you all had a fantastic day!!

xoxo,

Claire

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Linking Up!

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30 Days of Thankfulness: Day 3 – A Gorgeous Day

Happy, happy Saturday!  I was thankful today for perfectly gorgeous weather for our garage sale.  77* and blue skies!

I generally dislike garage sales – well, I don’t mind stopping by one – that’s fun, but having them can sometimes be exhausting (like when people knock on your door at 6:30AM before a 7AM sale… “Got any antiques for sale?”  Maybe, but now you now pay double!! 😉 ).

But this sale was pretty low key and easy since our neighborhood was hosting and we didn’t even have to advertise in the paper or put out signs!   We were able to get rid of about half of our designated pile (although the train table didn’t sell 😦 ).  I swore that anything that did not sell would not be allowed back inside! Grrrr.  But… I can’t bear to set it by the street – it’s in perfectly good condition and the boys used to have so much fun with it when they were younger.  Memories!  So we decided that we are going to take it Harbor House, which is a women’s shelter for victims of domestic abuse.  Many times the women that show up there have their children with them, so we figured they could definitely use several of our items that didn’t sell.  Anyway, if you have some (gently) used items that you need to get rid of and aren’t up for a garage sale, a local shelter may be another option aside from the larger national charities that everyone thinks of first.

Once we get that last pile donated / delivered, I can finally post the garage reveal.  I know you are all waiting with baited breath.  haha!

And now…

I am just in a cooking AND baking mood after all of this organizing!  I don’t know if you have been online as much as I have over the last few days (bordering on unhealthy??) but there are soooo many yummy Fall recipes out there.  I feel consistently hungry staring at all of these beautiful sweet and savory treats!  Think it will be a foodie post on Monday!  Stay tuned!

Here are a few of my favorite savory food posts I’ve read in the last couple of days (I could probably list 100+ but I would NEVER get to Sunday’s post!) :

Tomato Pie

(photo courtesy of OceanBreezesandCountrySneezes.com)

Y’all, I am a cheese FREAK and this savory tart looks so yummy and is topped with a melty combination of cheesy goodness.  My mouth is watering…  check out my friend Mary over at “Ocean Breezes & Country Sneezes” (so sweet!) for this recipe.  I can’t wait to try it out!

Acorn Squash & Sweet Potato Gnocchi

(photo courtesy of marianhd.com)

My friend Marian over at “For The Love of Food” posted about this delish dish.  We LOVE gnocchi and my 100% Italian Husband is ready to try this right away (like yesterday)!  As an aside, Marian and her Husband also did an amazing week long experiment called the “SNAP challenge” where, for one whole week, they lived off the same benefits that those receiving SNAP benefits (Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) have to live on.  This Govt. program allows about $30 / week per person.  This is an extremely humbling post to read and I don’t want this to get lost so will most likely mention this again one more time before Thanksgiving.

Crock Pot Balsamic BBQ Pulled Pork over Cornbread

(photo courtesy of simplyscratch.com)

Now this just looks like MAJOR comfort food right here!!!  And over cornbread??  Oh my.  I found this on Pinterest and the original post is by Laurie at SimplyScratch.com.  One more that I must try soon!

Ok – off to do some of my own cooking! Hope you all have an AMAZING weekend (and enjoy that extra hour of sleep too, thanks to Daylight Savings ending!).

xoxo,

Claire

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31 Days To An Organized Home: Day 27 – A Day Inside

Thanks for stopping by!  This is Day #27 of my “31 Days To An Organized Home” challenge.  If you missed it, you can catch up with Day #1 here!

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Brrr!!   I feel like I can officially say “Happy Fall”!   Today was pretty chilly (at least for Central Florida) and also very overcast.  Day #2 of not being able to paint the card catalog so will have to try again tomorrow when it is supposed to be sunny and slightly warmer.  Since it will probably hit the 90s again soon, I am not too worried.  I mean, we are sometimes wearing shorts on Christmas Day around here.  🙂  But for today, it was a great day to be inside and so very nice to have real “Fall weather” for a change!  Yay!!

So today started with the Husband waking up on some sort of mission, since he sat up and immediately declared that he “must make baguettes”  (I think I pulled the covers tighter and hoped that would entail making coffee as well).

Maybe he had a bizarre dream that involved our travels to Paris or maybe he got inspired because all of the baking supplies have now been organized??  😉

Or maybe he is just crazy ( that might have also crossed my mind early this AM).

Whatever the case, the man loves to cook as much as I do and he also happens to make amazing bread and homemade pasta so who am I to complain?  Lucky me.  And top either of those with with my favorite food group – CHEESE – and there’s why we’re still happily married (cheese IS a food group, right??).  We’ll talk about bacon some other time…

I might have still been waking up and enjoying my coffee (as opposed to snapping the obligatory blog photos of the yeast bubbling and the dough rising…) but here are the loaves prepping to go into the oven… (and on the cover of the cookbook in the background, that’s The Husband when he was little on the bottom right). 🙂

And then *poof*.  Beautiful baguettes (you see how hard I worked on this right??).

Delicious loaves of yummy goodness right there.  Littlest agrees.  He could barely wait to get his hands on a slice when it came out of the oven.

Just out of curiosity, does anyone else start to say something and then it just fades out before the end of the sentence as you realize that what you are saying is not only falling on temporarily deaf ears, but it’s just a beat too late ?

IE:  “Dont touch that – it just came out of the oven and it’s rea… “.  Oh nevermind.    And if you burn your mouth “I told you so!”.  😉

And, since Littlest is dressed in his Halloween costume (and may not take it off before Halloween if he has his way), it must be “doctor’s orders”!  Let them eat BREAD!

All said and done it was a fantastic day – Halloween costumes were finished, had a great feast for lunch with the little guys, and lots of progress made in the final push on the garage.  Also a few more little touches added to the Master Bedroom – nothing major, will have to add a new picture.

Card catalog reveal tomorrow (fingers crossed that we can paint!!).

Happy, happy weekend!

xoxo,

Claire

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