Tuesday, December 27, 2011

{Families} 19 People and Counting

Some childhood friends of mine asked me to come over to their parents' house the day before Christmas Eve and capture their growing family... and it worked out! 
I was so excited to see Maria and Olga and the rest of the gang.  It had been about seven or eight years since we'd been together, and the family has basically doubled in size since then.  And, in addition to us doing something meaningful with the money from the session fee, they also paid me in homemade tamales.  Who can beat that?!
On the surface, I can see about 100 woulda-shoulda-couldas in these photos, but if you just look past them all you'll see is a lot of love in a family which is also loved by me!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Andes Mint Cookies - Take 35

I made another batch of my award winning Andes Mint Cookies today and am very pleased with how they turned out!  Not like last time.

I got two spontaneous requests for this recipe this week, in addition to the fact that I was attempting them again, so I figured I'd rehash the how-to on the ol' bliggity blog.  Next time I can just send a link instead of texting a photo of my dirty, poorly abbreviated recipe card.  There are so many dos and don'ts with this thing that it's good to read through before attempting.

So, here goes.

3/4 c butter
1 1/2 c sugar
2 T. water
12 oz. chocolate chips
2 eggs
2 1/2 c flour
1 1/4 T. baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 boxes Andes Mints

Melt the first four ingredients over medium-low heat, stirring frequently.  Don't let the chocolate get too hot.  Once it's smooth (it won't be glassy smooth because of the granulated sugar, but you'll be able to tell when the chips are fully melted), remove it from the heat and let it cool for a while.  Add the eggs.

Combine the remaining dry ingredients and then pour in the chocolate mixture.  Stir well.  Dough will be pasty but thick.  Cover and refrigerate for one hour.

Roll the chilled dough into 1-inch balls (don't go bigger -- you'll be sorry!) and place at least 2-3 inches apart on a well-greased cookie sheet.  I like to use Pam.  The only time I used butter was the time they turned out terrible.  I don't know if the two are related, but better safe than sorry.

Bake at 350 for 12 minutes.  The cookies will be puffy in the oven until the 11-12 minute mark.  After they flatten, that's your cue.

While they're in the oven, take this time to unwrap your Andes Mints.  After the cookies come out, leave them on the cookie sheet and drop one mint onto each.  After a couple of minutes the mint will be melted enough to spread around like icing.  Note -- these are meant to be thin, crispy cookies.  Don't hate if you were expecting something else.

Cool on a wire rack and enjoy!  You can also freeze them.  I haven't done that before, but this is my grandma's recipe and I know she always made them well before Christmas and kept them in the freezer.

And now, for those of you who think I'm way too wordy, here's a version you can select and print:

Melt together:
  • 3/4 c butter
  • 1 1/2 c sugar
  • 2 T. water
  • 12 oz. chocolate chips
Chill for a while, then add:
  • 2 eggs
Sift together:
  • 2 1/2 c flour
  • 1 1/4 T. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
Pour chocolate mix into dry ingredients, mix well and refrigerate one hour.  Roll chilled dough into 1-inch balls and place 2-3 inches apart on greased cookie sheet.  Bake at 350 for 12 minutes.  Top with one Andes Mint while cookies are still hot.  Swirl with knife after the mint melts.  Transfer to wire rack.

Yields about 4.5 dozen cookies... exactly enough for 2 boxes of Andes Mints.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Fun with Photoshop

I couldn't sleep last night so I decided to redecorate a stranger's home.  I looked online for a listed house that was unfurnished (easier to edit) and found this 1980 Texas split-level with amazing Mexican hex tile.  The same tile was used throughout the ground floor of my dad's hotel when I was growing up, and I always thought it was so cool.

Here are the original pics of the listing followed by my magic!
This would be such an inexpensive update!  Paint the walls a warm white, paint the built-ins (I had to just grab some image online because I couldn't figure out how to change the color of the wood), remove the mirrored wall and replace with some accent wall paper that mimics the geometric floor, replace the two ceiling fans with Mediterranean-style lighting and keep the stained molding.  I actually would totally keep the molding around the window too but it was too difficult to keep it in the edit.  I love the nailhead trim on the club chairs but the leather ottoman is weird in the light of day.  Maybe a big barn wood coffee table would be great.

Can't tell what you're seeing up there?  That weird wrought iron thing next to the stairs actually looks through to the floor of the kitchen.  I wonder if that was original to the house?  It's so strange.  Cover it up with a big ol' vintage map of Texas and maybe some wainscoting on the other side in the kitchen.

How great is the existing woodwork and the tiling on the wet bar?  I added the same geo wall paper to the inside of the bar and replaced the mirrored back with more decorative tile.  It's a little much but I had fun playing with it.  Maybe some colorful glass tiles with some metallics mixed in to mirror the aluminum bull skull on the opposite wall... I keep forgetting this isn't real life! :)

I just did this to pass time but it turned out so pretty that I had to share it!  Of course it's completely wonky and the later the night went on the more sloppy I got with the editing, but I'm so into this style that I just invented!  Does it have a name?

Friday, November 4, 2011

Somebody got married...

I blogged a lot about this wedding craft so I might as well post the results, huh?  I didn't get a good shot of the ring bearer's accessories, but if you look closely you can see the bow tie and his mom holding the ring pillow.  I also whipped up a headband for Kate using the first bow tie I attempted that came out too small.

I seem to remember snapping a photo of the guy who caught the garter sporting my hard work as a sweatband (I'm not making any sarcastic implications here; I was really excited when he displayed my handiwork!) but that photo does not exist on my camera.  I'm not surprised.  My friend, Mr. Cabernet, may have told me to delete it or it's possible he accidentally handed me someone else's camera.

It was such a beautiful, fun and unique wedding and I was happy to be a part of it!  Enjoy some more of the photos..

Friday, October 14, 2011

{Seniors} Graduation announcement

Little Mackenzie's all grown up!  The first time I held her I was wearing a hot pink wind suit and had a perm.  Now she's living it up at SMU.  You go, girl!

(I don't get the photo credit here, just the announcement design)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Paper fortune cookies

I used this idea to distribute verses to girls at the Confirmation retreat last January to supplement a talk I was giving.  The girls loved them and many of them actually placed their verses carefully back inside and tucked them away for safe keeping.

All you need is CD-sized pieces of paper, fortune strips and hot glue!

 Idea credit goes to 70 Piggies!  Go there for instructions.

Boy, do I miss the days of crafting in my Forever Lazy!  My husband, however, does not.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

BCH Sports - They're on it!

For some reason I offered to take photos at Shotwell Stadium (a high school football field) in the middle of July because I thought the sports team needed some fresh promotional photos before the season started and because I wanted an excuse to rent a wide-angle lens.  It was more than 100 degrees outside, so we did this all in about 10 minutes.  I'm mostly pleased with how they turned out, but I would have spent a lot more time barking orders about who should stand where if it had been, oh, only 90 degrees.

I can't believe I forgot to use the flash to fill those facial shadows.  I hate flash photos with the exception of outdoors on bright days.  But what was I supposed to do, ask them to come back? :)

Kat in the Hat

Not to be redundant from the other blog, but here are a few photos I took last week for, in exchange for a discount off of the hat to go with Kate's Halloween costume, which remains a surprise! :)

Mila's Daydreams knockoff

If you haven't seen pictures of Mila's Daydreams, you should check them out.  Unfortunately Mila's mom's photos got "stolen" from her blog so quickly that she doesn't even have them up anymore, but they're still all over the internet.

Austin requested a picture of Kate for our anniversary, so using those photos as inspiration, here's what I ended up with!  I LOVE it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Wedding collection complete

 Here comes the bride... all dressed in ivory.

I've blogged about this project a few times, so let's take a look back and see how it compares, shall we?  For instance, here you can see the pleated satin trim is totally silver, not taupe as it appears in the picture.  I also only used a tiny bit of the velvet leaves I ordered because they just looked flat.  Thankfully I found some silk hydrangeas in the perfect color.

Ring pillow, bow tie and garter
The color scheme also changed a bit from what we originally talked about.  Emily's bridesmaid dresses were originally going to be a taupe color but based on her bevy of blonde bridesmaids, she decided to go with a more complimentary crimson.

These were so hard to photograph – probably because of the colors and the ticking time bomb soon-to-wake baby – but hopefully you get the gist of it.

I'm a little sad I didn't take any pictures of the sewing process, but it was night time AND I was in the groove.  But I'd be happy to provide a step-by-step if anybody asks.

In the next month I'll add another photo of the headband I'm going to make Kate with all the leftover scraps.  She and Liam (the ring bearer) have to get a picture together!

Made with Dupioni silk and trim purchased on Etsy, the brown ribbon from the bride & groom's invite and rust silk hydrangeas found on a shelf in my living room.

I added a handle to the bottom for 2-year-old Liam to hold on to.  The rings won't actually be attached to the pillow.  He's just walking because he's so cute!

I sewed a two-inch strip of silk with a 1/2 inch pocket for the elastic to thread through.  The embellishments are hiding the issue of fraying fabric.  In the future, I wouldn't use Dupioni for something as over-worked as a garter.  And the feathers were found in my closet.  Goodness, I have a lot of pretty junk laying around!
Find the pattern for this tie at

Monday, August 22, 2011

Back in the sewing saddle

Other than the appliques on these cute "monthaversary" onesies. I haven't done any sewing since Kate was born. 

But that's about to change as I just ordered the supplies I need to make my friend's ring bearer pillow and bow tie and her garter!  I first wrote about it here.

They were my first ever purchases on Etsy.  The Dupioni silk in the middle is from a seller in India so I'm excited to tell Emily it's made of "imported silk."  Hopefully that will minimize the disappointment when it comes out crooked with last-minute hot glue strings all over it.

I haven't even started the project and I already feel a little like Denise when she is commissioned to sew a shirt for Theo.  Anybody?  No?  Here.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The solution is clear.

This is a beautiful glass bowl handed down to me by my grandma.

Here's a better view of the etched design.  She told me I should use it for serving ice.  I later saw a bowl just like this on Mad Men.  Peggy served ice in it.  Grandma knows her stuff.

This is a $2 glass bowl from Wal-Mart.  I used it to serve Grandma's Texas Trash at Kate's baptism.  You see, people used to make their own Chex mix before Chex did.

This is what happens when you wash dishes in the sink.  Boy meets girl and ain't nothin Momma can do to split 'em up.

Aunt Joanne enlisted the help of her daughters, sisters, nephews and I to come up with all kinds of different removal tactics.  
Like hot water.

And cold water.

We tried olive oil and butter.

Then, we decided to quit messing with it and let it dry completely for three whole weeks.  We figured once the water dried up, the suction would be gone and the inner bowl would plop right out onto the pot holder.

So.  It's three weeks later.  No water's left and those suckers are still hanging on to each other for dear life.  So, given the disposable nature of bowl #2, I decide the solution is clear.  Bust it out.

Me, my hammer and my screwdriver pound away.  150 knocks later with only a small chip to speak of, I realize it's time to get aggressive.

Whacking away, hoping the Mad Men bowl stays in tact and wishing I owned protective goggles, I begin to make progress.  Once glass started actually coming out I filled the bowls with water while I continued breaking it so that the glass wouldn't fly up into my face.

And there you have it, Aunt Joanne.  It's out!  Kellerwoman 1, glass bowls 0.  Ok, maybe it's a tie.  It did take three weeks.  Scotch on the rocks, anyone?
Excuse the pigtails.  They ease the pain of the recent hair pulling going on around here lately.