Life In Photos #32

I have a few fun shots to share this week!

snow tree

I just love the way snow looks on the pine trees. So wintry, and oddly cozy looking even though it’s so chilly!


Visited with my BFF and her new little man was wide awake when I arrived! After snapping a few shot, I then snagged him and proceeded to have hours of snuggles.


I was playing around with my manual settings and ended up with this shot, which I love. His peaceful face, the tree in the background – it just gives me that Christmas magic feeling!

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My mum’s yard always has some form of animal in it as she puts out food scraps all winter for them! A variety of birds, squirrels and chipmunks, deer, and others are always about. I snapped a pic of these blue jays and then did some partial black and white edits. I just love how the blue pops on the snow! I’m glad these turned out since I shot them through my mum’s door window (the blue jays quickly got perturbed with me). 😉

Hopefully I’ll be able to get some deer shots sometime!

My 1st Annual Holiday Card Swap!


As cheesy as it may sound, one of my favorite parts of the holidays is getting Christmas cards in the mail! I mean, I love getting mail all the time, but the Christmas season always seems extra special, and I tend to be jam packed with holiday cheer.

With that in mind, I’d like to kick off what I hope will become an annual holiday card swap! Which is exactly what it sounds like – let’s send each other Christmas cards! Simply email me ( with your mailing address, and also a favorite character from a favorite fandom of yours! Why? That parts a secret. 😀 I’ll email you back my own address, and we’ll be made in the shade.

*A quick note: Although I’m not religious, I do celebrate Christmas and therefore my go-to phrase is Merry Christmas. If you don’t celebrate it, but still want to exchange cards, just let me know in the email so I can accommodate! Thanks!*

Eventually, I’d like to be able to handmake each card, but I can tell you this year that I just don’t have time. Either way, I’m so excited to start this swap!

In the same vein, another thing I’d really like to make you aware of is Deviant Art’s Holiday Card Project. You don’t have to be a member of the site to participate, so don’t let that stop you. Here’s a summary, in case you don’t feel like clinking that other link! 😉

Every year, Deviant Art gathers cards made OR purchased by people and hands them out to patients who have to spend their holidays in the hospital. Which I think is just fabulous. I always make sure to mail in a few cards to them, and this year I even got my little in on it too! Here’s the address if you’d like to send one (or many!):

deviantART, Inc.
Holiday Card Project
7095 Hollywood Blvd., #788
Hollywood, CA 90028

All cards must be received by December 17th to make it in time for delivery! Also, please keep in mind that these cards go to people of all religions. Everything is allowed, but they recommend a more generic ‘Happy Holidays’ or ‘Seasons Greetings’ if possible. The only other thing recommended is to stay away from writing the phrase ‘Get Well Soon’, as unfortunately that may not be applicable to all patients. Things like ‘Thinking of You’ or ‘Best Wishes’ are a better option!

Hope to drop you a card in the mail soon. What’s one of your favorite parts of the holiday season?

Introducing: Christmas On A Budget!

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With Christmas one month away as of today, it seemed like the perfect time to introduce my new series, Christmas On A Budget! I adore Christmas and, like most people, I love to give gifts! However, I live on a pretty tight budget. We are a one income household, and every year it seems like our Christmas to-buy-for list grows. I wanted to share some of my favorite tips and tricks for how to survive Christmas on a budget. For every Monday before Christmas in December there will be a new part in the series, featuring some of my favorite ways to save money and still give gifts for the holidays!

December 1st: Handmade Items
December 8th: Food
December 15th: From Kids, and For Kids
December 22nd: Stocking Stuffers

I hope you’ll tag along for each post! It’s been so much fun to plan, and hopefully you’ll find something helpful!


Below are some of the basic things I do each year to ensure this season doesn’t become overwhelming on the bank account.

1. Make A List
You know how I live off lists, right? Well, the Christmas season is no different. Often what can be so overwhelming (and killer on a budget) is the fact that the possibilities seem endless for items to buy. I always start by making a list of everyone I need a gift for, and then listing a few items I know they’d like. It’s kickoff point, and can help narrow down things for each person.

2. Stick To A Budget
I know this sounds like a DUH but I feel like it is one of those things that gets out of hand quickly. I am completely guilty of it. I’ll say to myself, Okay, no more than x amount for this person, spend it, and then a week later find something I just HAVE to get for them and spend more. Don’t do that! If you pick a number, STICK TO IT.

3. Make A Gift or Money Limit With Friends/Significant Others
This can really ease some stress if you worry about not being ‘even’ in your gift giving, which I think can be a legitimate concern! So whether it’s your mom, your BFF, your partner, or all of the above, agree to a no-more-than X number of gifts/$$ for each other and some shopping stress has been lifted.

4. Limit Gifts To Your Own Kids
This one is situational and a bit age dependent, but it can save so much money so do it if you can! In my case, my child recieves a TON of gifts from friends and family members. So as much as I want to buy her a massive amount of fun new things, I force myself to stop at a few, with a big special one from ‘Santa’. She will still get plenty, and my wallet is a lot happier. I say if you can get away with doing that too, go right ahead.

5. Shop Early
If I’m out and about in July and I see an item I know a friend will love, you better believe I’m buying it and stashing it away for later. I have a designated hiding spot for presents and I always put them there, that way it’s out of MY sight and I’m not tempted to give it to them early. Then come November, check your stash and see how much you DON’T have to buy! Seeing how it’s nearly December I realize this tip isn’t that helpful, but maybe tuck it away for next year?! A tweak to this could also be make it a goal to finish ALL your Christmas shopping by the end of November (I do this EVERY year). That way come December you have nothing to do but enjoy the season, and maybe snag a few last minute things if need be!

6. Comparison Shop
Another DUH, but one I forget about more than I’d like to. Often I buy something on impulse, than see it later on Amazon or a different store for cheaper. Now when I do my holiday shopping, I check everywhere I can think of online and then figure out what gets me the best deal. I do a lot less in-store shopping, but when I do I also try and coordinate it around sales.


These tips have worked well for me in the past few years! I feel a lot less stressed about the holiday season knowing I don’t have to worry so much about my budget, and that is a great feeling.

What are some of your holiday money saving tips?

The New Year Beckons

What a fun holiday season! As you can see, I’m a bit behind on my holiday baking post. But better late than never yes?! I can’t believe I’m sitting on the doorstep of 2014. Part of me is really ready for the new year with new goals and new projects, but part of me is like WAIT! SLOW DOWN!! If the new year is here that means I actually have to start DOING those goals and projects. And I don’t quite feel ready. But I’ll get there.

Now, without further ado, here are the recipes (and photos) of my holiday baking gifts.

First up, Peanut Butter Blossoms. I whipped up a (huge) batch of these for friends and a couple events we went to in the weeks leading up to Christmas. I only ever have these at Christmas time, so even though they could be an any-time cookie, I always think of them as a holiday cookie!


Get the recipe here!

This peanut butter cookie recipe spreads out quite a bit, so don’t smush your rolled dough balls too much with a fork. I love this recipe however as it makes wonderfully soft chewy cookies (my favorite!).

Next I made two batches of Peanut Butter Buckeyes. Apparently I was in a chocolate peanut butter mood for my treats this year!


Get the recipe here!

These are a little messy when it comes to the chocolate dipping part (either that or it’s just ME who is a little lot messy) but they are so tasty. I have a lot of little candy boxes left over from doing the farmers market years ago and these tucked perfectly in there to give as gifts.

Every year I make a Chocolate Mousse Pie for my best friends mother. She adores it. I also made one for Thanksgiving this year and it was a hit.


Get the recipe here!

I love this pie. It is the most decadent, rich, smooth, chocolatey thing I eat all year. Just heavenly.

I tried out a new bread recipe and whipped up some Honey Spice Bread to go with the Apple Butter I canned earlier this year. This was the only recipe I tried this year that wasn’t my own!


Get the recipe here.

If I’m being 100% honest, I wasn’t over the moon for this bread recipe. I found it REALLY dry. It had great flavor, but the texture was too dry and crumbly for my taste. But with some apple butter and a cup of tea it was just perfect!

And lastly, I whipped up two batches of the Lemon Bar Brownies (from my previous baking post). One batch for my mum, and one for my mother in law.


Get the recipe here.

Compared to last year, this was a relatively small holiday baking session for me. But I loved it. It was so nice not to feel swamped with baking and be able to enjoy each treat I made for people. See you in 2014!

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Life In Photos #3: Holiday Edition

The last week was filled with family, friends, food, and Christmas joy! Although it’s nice to wind down afterward, I always feel like the holidays are gone too quickly.

Life in Photos #3
(Click to enlarge)

1. Family photo in front of the tree.
2. Opening her first present.
3. The kitties favorite part of Christmas. . .wrapping paper!
4. Having a much needed rest with her cousin at the end of Christmas night.
5. Decorating her first Gingerbread House.
6. Some snake love at my BFF’s house for their annual Christmas Eve party.

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Christmas Wrap-up & Handmade Gifts

Did you know there is a difference between handmade and homemade? I learned a couple years back that handmade refers to items or things while homemade refers specifically to foods. Fun fact of the day!

I hope everyone’s holiday was excellent – ours was as usual. Busy, but wonderful. I love to have a couple days completely filled with family, friends, and food!

Every year, I always try and make presents for people. I grew up hand making presents for people as long as I can remember. My mum and grandparents still have paper ornaments I made when I was three. I still remember making cinnamon dough ornaments with my mum to give as gifts. It’s something that has always been extremely important to me, and therefore it’s something I want to pass along to my daughter. Since she was a year old she has been making presents for people and I hope she grows up enjoying it!

For her gifts this year, we did a combination of photo gifts, and ornaments. My family loves photos, so these are always a winner.



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These were incredibly simple to make. We sat down with watercolors and salt to make the backgrounds. Then she looked through photos of her and Daddy and picked her favorite, and of her and Mimi and picked her favorite. For Mimi’s gift I did a little ‘interview’ with her about her Mimi (what Mimi likes to do, her favorite thing to do at Mimi’s house, etc) and wrote it up under the photo. Then I snagged two shadowbox frames from Target, assembled them together, and voila! Perfect gifts from a toddler.


For the ornaments I made a cinnamon dough, and we rolled and cut out shapes together with cookie cutters. Then I used got out some ABC stamps and she helped me stamp the letters on. Once they were all dry (a few days later), she painted them (I did the letter outline in white of course). The little ones were strung up as garland for our living room, and the big ones will be gifts. As you can see, I didn’t turn the snowman quite enough as he was drying so he got a bit curled. Adds character right? Right.


As for my handmade gifts, I did some drawings and paintings for friends.

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And also some Doctor Who bookmarks! I definitely made one for myself as well – who wouldn’t crack up seeing that face sticking out of your book?! On the backs of each bookmark are the words ‘Property of (insert recipients name) written out in Gallifreyan (aka the Doctor’s language for those non-Whovians out there). I found this awesome Gallifreyan translator on DeviantArt; it’s pretty fabulous.


And being somewhat of a crazy cat lady, I made a couple new toys for our two kitties. Again, very simple. I cut out two pieces of felt and sewed a button and a bit of detailing on, then stitched around the edge, stuffed ’em full of catnip and sewed the rest shut! Pardon the wobbly stitching – I don’t hand stitch things often. One of my kitties could care less about them, but our other one is OBSESSED with them! He wrestles, chews, throws, and generally tries to destroy them to get at the catnip. It’s hilarious.



As for my homemade gifts (aka yummy treats) tune in for my Holiday December Baking post on Monday!

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Merry Christmas!

I just wanted to pop in and say Merry Christmas to you and yours! Originally I was going to post two separate holiday baking posts, but I decided to just wait, and do all my holiday baking in one big post. For now, I’m signing off for the week to enjoy the holidays with friends and family. I hope your holidays are filled with joy. . .and food! See you in a week!

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        Our tree this year, and my big three year old!

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30 Days of Lists Week 2

Cruising right along with the #30Lists project! I can’t believe it’s halfway done already. Prepping my pages ahead of time has been a huge boon to me; now even when things get crazy around here I can still snag five minutes after my daughter goes to bed and write my lists down.


For day 8 the original prompt was more geared to Christmas movies on your movie watching list. I’m not a big Christmas movie gal and since they encourage altering the prompts to suit you better, I changed it to movies I want to see both this year and next.


I really like Day 12 (Places I Went This Year), as it was great to remember all the places we took our little miss. Our family runs on a pretty tight budget, so we don’t really get to do big trips or travel to far off places, but we still manage to get in plenty of local or not-too-far trips!


I am adoring this project!

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Life In Photos #2

*A quick update on my December baking post which would normally be today. Originally for my daughter’s birthday this past weekend I was going to make vanilla and chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream frosting, but after she had a bite of her Daddy’s carrot cake (see December Baking Week 1) she requested that instead! And the sugar cookies I made for her party were the same recipes as the ones I posted already. . .so the long and short of it is I have no new recipes to share this week, oops! But feel free to take a look back at December Baking Week 1 and snag those yummy recipes. I can’t recommend the carrot cake enough. And there will certainly be more December baking posts. . .this week kicks off the beginning of holiday baking!*

What we’ve been up to lately:

Life in Photos #2

First Row:
1. My little fashionista.
2. Finally started wrapping Christmas presents!
3. Got my new corner gallery up and I love it.

Second Row:
1. Eight inches of snow makes my miss a happy girl.
2. Mimi gave us some new marble road sets (or ‘marble castles’ as my three year old calls them!).
3. My miss has been very into reading by herself lately. . .I love to listen to her narrate the pictures!

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30 Days Of Lists: Week 1

Last week I mentioned that I was partaking in a fun blog project called 30 Days of Lists. I had no idea just how much fun it would be!

Originally, I wasn’t planning on making a special book for this project. I always keep a makeshift smashbook on hand to jot down ideas, stash magazine clippings in, or take notes about projects I’m planning. So I figured I would just add to that. But as it turned out, I only had three pages left so it wasn’t going to be enough for this project. And once I saw the beautiful books some other bloggers were making, I was longing to do some scrapbooking!



So I made a book. At a yard sale years ago I found four vintage albums (the kind with the cellophane inside to stick your photos under) for a quarter each. They were brand new, still sealed in plastic. Yeah, they came home with me. I used one for the base of my lists book. It’s simple; just fabric covered with a bit of wrapping paper, but it’s exactly what I want. Once the outside was done, I made pages for the rest of the days as well, so now I just have to fill them in and embellish!

My page for days 1 and 2.

It was so nice to scrapbook again. Before this, I hadn’t made any pages in almost two years! Being so busy with other arts and crafts, I’ve mainly switched to digital scrapbooking (using sites like Shutterfly or Blurb), and it was incredibly refreshing to sit down for two hours after my little miss went to bed, spread all my supplies on the living room floor, and just make something! I am hooked all over again.

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Days 3 and 4.                                Days 5, 6, and 7.

So needless to say, I’m loving this project! Each day is like it’s own little Christmas present in my inbox with a new list prompt. I’m so glad I decided to partake!

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