Real Party: Ornament Exchange

My annual ornament exchange with some of my girlfriends was today.  Janelle hosted the ladies, and though I was in another state, I never like to a miss party! :) I attended via Skype – my first time using it.  They sat “me” in the laptop at the table with them, and I didn’t have to miss out on anything! Fabulous!
I can’t wait to see my cute cupcake ornament in person!

Merry Christmas!

Our 2010 Christmas Card
Hope you all have a fabulous weekend with family & friends! 

My Christmas Table(s)

 For Christmas Eve Dinner we will have a full house. So much so that I will have 2 tables. 
My table settings are nothing fancy, but I am definitely in the spirit now that things are set for dinner! 

I am really in love with the brown glass candle sticks I found at the Good Will when I went to get this frame.  I see other bloggers find great stuff there, and I never seem to. Finally I have some great candle sticks! 
 It was fun to use my place cards from TomKat Studio that I purchased last year. And I love the tablecloth I have from Crate & Barrel
It looks amazing with my new copper chargers and some of our china. 
My other table  is a little folding table — a little squishier, but that’s ok.
I took a cue from Jackie Fo and went with cranberries for my centerpieces on this one (which I froze after the pancake breakfast, just as she suggests). 
Wishing you all the happiest of Holidays!

DIY Idea: Homemade Apple Butter Gifts

I like to make something to give as presents every year.  Homemade gifts are very appreciated and (bonus!) it saves a little money during this expensive season.  
I told you how my friend Lindsay recently moved into a new home.  The new house has an awesome apple tree in the backyard, so she and I raided the tree and used some of the apples to make apple butter. 
This turned out to be quite an undertaking.  We used this recipe.  The apple butter turned out to be quite yummy, but what a mess it made! We were literally scrubbing sticky apple butter off the walls! 
I’ve seen many other recipes out there and would recommend trying one that used a slow cooker instead of the stove top like the recipe we used. 
We did eventually finish and manage to get the kitchen (walls, floor, counters) clean. 
We doubled the recipe, which filled 24 4oz jars with a little left over. 
I made some cute little labels to put on the top of my jars. 

For gifts, I packaged them with two kinds of muffin mix and a cute spreader.  They looked pretty darn cute wrapped with cellophane and tied with a bow! 
Lindsay baked some bread to go with hers and tied them with burlap & twine.  Adorable. 
Click here to see the pesto I made last year. 

Real Party: Pancake Breakfast

My friend Jeani once spent time volunteering at a school in Uganda, through a program called i.HUG
Jeani and one of the school kids from her time in Uganda. 
Click here to see some other pictures of the school. 
i.HUG is an amazing program that works to run a school, train teachers, raise scholarships to send children to the school, increase access to medical care in the areas they serve, and form income-generating projects to sustain the program. 

Every year Jeani does some kind of fundraiser for this program and school that she loves so much.   This year she decided to do a pancake breakfast.  
I was thrilled that she asked my friend Lindsay and I to help with styling the event! 

The first thing I did was call up my friend Will. He was responsible for the gorgeous tablescapes at this wedding.  I asked him to borrow the hurricanes. Remember these? 

Instead of the earthy black rocks from the wedding, I used festive cranberries. 
Cute, right? 
Lindsay made a few burlap squares with red ribbon edging to go under them. 

The next thing I did was make a menu and a little Christmas tree i.HUG graphic for the buffet table.  

Jeani’s collage of pictures from her time with i.HUG. (sorry for the blurry pic!)

Silverware and napkins on the beverage station.  
I cannot take any credit for the food, but I can tell you it was delicious! 
Seriously, I am never making pancakes out of a box again after I tasted Jeani’s homemade pancakes! 

Here’s the pancake crew: Lindsay, me, Jeani, Deb, & Molly 
(I also have to give a shout-out to Tom and Monica who were a master pancake flipper & fruit displayer that morning!)

What a fun way to raise some money for an awesome cause! 
I’ll update later with our total raised.  

This is a awesome, trustworthy program where money donated goes a long way to make a difference in the lives of children.  If you are still planning to do some charitable giving this year, please consider i.HUG