Sunday, December 18, 2011

This Lil' Birdie Gingerbread Cookies

It's Christmastime, and I am absolutely addicted to these gingerbread cookies!

My sister made them back in October for her Stella & Dot show, and I couldn't stop eating them!  She was sweet enough to send over the recipe, but I've waited until the holiday season to make them so that I can fully appreciate how truly yummy they are! (And so I can share the yum with friends and family!)

The recipe is easily doubled, but I got 33 small-ish cookies out of this batch (and a couple of big ones that I'm already calling dibs on)!  Here's what you'll need:

2 3/4 c. all purpose flour
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp (what I call a "pinch") salt
3/4 c. shortening (seriously, just get the Crisco.  It MAKES these cookies!)
1 c. sugar
1 egg
1/4 c molasses
extra sugar for rolling cookies before baking
optional:  hershey kisses (for a little extra something sweet, but only if you want)

To make these:

In a large mixing bow, beat the shortening on low for 30 seconds.  Then add in sugar and beat until combined (be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl!).

Add in the eggs and molasses and beat until combined.  {BTW, am I the only person that thinks molasses smells absolutely horrible?  Oh, I'm not?  Glad to know we all agree that molasses stinks!}

In a separate mixing bowl, combine flour, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt.  Beat the flour mixture into the egg/shortening mixture until combined.

Next, shape dough into 1 inch balls, and roll them in the extra sugar. {P.s. I have a problem with washing my hands while I cook in that I do it WAY too much.  So the process for taking this picture went a little like this:  wash hands; shape dough; roll dough in sugar; wash hands; take picture of dough ball in sugar bowl; wash hands; put dough ball on cookie sheet.  *WHEW*  And this is why there aren't a ton of "during" pictures when I share what I cook}

Put them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat mat and bake at 350*F for about 8 to 9 minutes (my first dozen went in for 9 minutes; the last batch went in for 8 minutes).

Ahhh, fresh out of the oven!  {Just so we're all clear on this, these cookies smell a LOT better once they're cooked!  It's that durn molasses that makes the dough stink!}

These are perfectly yummy just as they are, but I just happen to think everything is better with chocolate.  So I did this...

The chocolate kiss is the perfectly sweet way to balance to the more savory taste of these cookies.

If you so choose, while your cookies are in the oven, get out that bag of Halloween Hershey kisses you found on clearance at Publix for $.72 (no, really! I bought them this morning!), and take the wrappers off a dozen or so.

Once the cookies come out of the oven, and while they're still hot, press a kiss into the top of each cookie.

Cool on a cookie rack, or be lazy like me, and spread out some wax paper on the counter and slide the cookies off the cookie sheet and onto the wax paper.

These are great Christmas gifts for teachers and neighbors.

I tied four little guys up with a little leftover polkadot Christms ribbon.

I found these adorable Christmas boxes at TJ Maxx for $2.99 for 3, and I think that with a big lime green bow, these will make great gifts for my neighbors.

Next time I make these, I want to try rolling the dough into gingerbread man shapes and decorating them.  But I think I'm going to lack the patience to put that much time and effort into these yummy little bites!

Let me know if you make these gingerbread cookies!  I promise you'll love them!

P.s.  I'm so excited that Petite Hermine featured my Brown Sugar Body Scrub on her Sunday Linky Party today!  Linking up again this week!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

This Lil' Birdie Made Marshmallows

Homemade marshmallows?  Oh, yes!

I LOVE marshmallows (we're even having s'mores as our wedding favors!), and lately I've been hearing more and more about gourmet marshmallow shops popping up like cupcakeries did a few years back.

So when I ran across this recipe for marshmallows, I knew I had to try it!!

Overall, I would say marshmallows are pretty easy provided you have a stand mixer.  In the first six minutes of beating on high, the fluff grew so much I was afraid it would poof out of the mixer!

Two minutes into beating on HIGH
Five minutes into beating on HIGH
The hardest part is by far the cutting and sugar dusting -- I had marshmallow all over my shirt and hands and counter.... I just love messy cooking!!  My advice?  Work on a BIG (very easy to clean) surface covered in wax paper and powdered sugar!

And what's a good marshmallow without some chocolate and crushed candy canes?  These little treat bags are FH's co-workers.  Lucky little guns, aren't they?

I think this is by far my new favorite snack.  Easy to make, easy to eat, and YUM YUM YUM!

Can't wait to try these in some homemade hot cocoa!

(p.s. linking up to Tip Junkie's Homemade Projects party!)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

This Lil' Birdie is Crafty: Brown Sugar Honey Body Scrub

This Christmas is involving quite a few homemade presents for me.  One of my favorites was given to me a few years ago and I can't stop making it for myself.  So for Christmas gifts this year, I decided to share the love.  (Sweet friends that might get this as a gift from me: just pretend you've never seen this and act surprised, okay?  Okay!)

Here's what you need to have amazingly soft and yummy smelling skin this winter!

1.5 cups of brown sugar
1/2 cup of EVOO
1 tsp vanilla extract (here's your yummy smell)
1 full tablespoon of honey (this is specifically a help for dry skin; you can leave this out if you want, but I LOVE honey!)

Mix it all together and put it in an adorable little mini Ball canning jar (I found mine at Target for less than $5 for a set of 4).  A pert bow, a little scrapbook paper tag (can you tell I haven't made mine yet?) and you've got an adorable gift for neighbor friends, teachers (except in Alabama where our "ethics" law say you can't give teachers gifts anymore), or pretty much anyone!

Don't worry if the oil separates from the honey and sugar, just mix it back in and rub-a-dub-dub!

Linking up with Petite Hermine's Sunday Linky Party and The Girl Creative's "Just Something I Whipped Up" party!

This Lil' Birdie is Obsessed: Gold Ceilings

No, really.  Gold ceilings.


I cannot get over how amazing this looks!  It adds such amazing flair to this room.

And this!  Ooh ooh ooh!  The cabinets are fantabulous!  If I thought I could talk FH into painting our cabinets, this would be on the list of possible colors.  All that natural light....I'm in love.

Now, FH isn't crazy about the idea of painting a ceiling gold, but I think it would look absolutely amazing in our guest bedroom/ someday nursery upstairs with creamy walls, dark furniture, and linen accents.  And so begins the process of convincing him that I am, of course, right.

Friday, December 9, 2011

This Lil' Birdie has a Fresh Fiancee

You won't even begin to understand that title until you click HERE.

No really.  You should totally click there.  Or clicking here is cool too.

Because that there linky up there (and further up there, too) is your direct access to my future hubby.  My own dear FH has started his own blog.

Here's a little excerpt from today.....

And yes, before you ask, he actually is as big of a goober as he seems.  Boo boo?  Don't read that last sentence, okay?

No, really, he's fun and you'll enjoy his musings and recommendations.  And now I insist you visit and tell him I sent you just to annoy him a tiny little bit!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

This Lil' Birdie Loves Fudge

I've never been much of a candy-maker.  Cookies, cakes, and especially cupcakes.  That's pretty much a weekly occurrence at my house.  But candy?  Not so much.

Until my sweet friend Julie introduced me to fantasy fudge last year.  Never heard of fantasy fudge?  You don't know what you're missing.  Really.

Not only is is super fabulously amazingly good to eat, but it's also super fabulously amazingly easy to make!

Here's the recipe I use.  I've never tried the stove method.  Give me a microwave any day, and I'm a happy girl!

Make this in the microwave and then take a little baby cookie cutter and cut out some cute Christmas shapes!  (P.s. see how my lil' tree is missing a corner?  I didn't wait until mine was fully cooled & hardened before going after it with the tree cutter, and this is what happened.  Heed my advice so yours turn out better than mine!).

This makes a great and easy gift idea for neighbors or co-workers.  Cellophane bags or cookie tins, a little twine or ribbon, and you're done!  Or do things like me, and make it and eat it all yourself!!!


Friday, December 2, 2011

This Lil' Birdie is Obsessed: Bayou Salvage

Christmas is just around the corner, but I just now am starting on my Christmas shopping list.  I can't help procrastinating; I simply cannot stop thinking about linen dresses for spring wedding showers!

Like these beauties all from Etsy!

Can you tell that I am loving absolutely everything from Bayou Salvage's Etsy shop?  I think I might need to re-make my Christmas list because I don't know how much longer I can live without her lovely linen everything!  Take a look yourself and just see if you don't fall in love with something!

P.s. Bayou Salvage has no idea who I am; I just truly love her items and will be purchasing soon :)

This Lil' Birdie is Decorating for Christmas

It was pretty well established last year that Christmas is my favorite favorite holiday!

And this year I'm even more excited to be able to decorate my own house! No more apartments for me -- time to bring out the BIG tree!

FH and I put the tree up the Sunday before Thanksgiving (to give me ample time to enjoy it).  We have the perfect little nook beside the fireplace, and isn't Sweet Sister's tree skirt fabulous?!  {P.s. That painting behind the tree?  FH's great-grandmother painted that.  So special. }

FH's parents were nice enough to give us his ornaments for my tree this year.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Seriously old-school technology.

His JanJan & Granddaddy went to Alaska earlier this year and brought back this guy.  **SHHH.... I broke this one.  Twice.  Thank God for superglue!***

Merry Christmas, Dudes!  Why, yes, we did grow up in the '90s!  How ever did you know??

Dear Santa-bell, your beard reminds me of fluorescent light bulbs and marshmallow twists. Sincerely, a energy-saving sweet fanatic.

Speaking of "Belles", even Puppy gets an ornament...
Or two!  What can I say?  She's well-loved!

Pinterest has fed my Christmas obsession, and I have a whole list of projects for this year. But the first thing I need to do is decorate outside this weekend.  Starting with getting rid of the dead mums that have been hanging out on the front porch since September.  Wish me luck.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

This Lil' Birdie Had an Uneventful Sunday

This happened today....
{Oatmeal Crispies from The Pioneer Woman}
And this is happening as I type...
{Chicken Spaghetti from The Pioneer Woman}
Can you tell what I've been cooking out of lately??

{The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond}
Oh, let me tell you this is one of my favorite cookbooks!  Sure, a lot of her recipes are online, but seriously, the cookbook is worth buying for the photography alone... I think I bought this the VERY DAY it came out... and FH seems to like it, so it's definitely a keeper!

Friday, September 30, 2011

This Lil' Birdie is Prepping for Fall

8 yards of burlap fabric, some brown ribbon, mums, and fake pumpkins.  It's official... Fall is here!

{Source Unknown but here's where I found it}
I found this picture in the many many hours I spend on Pinterest, and I have to say, my handcrafted version of this will be on our door as soon as FH decides where the nail needs to go (which will probably be around Christmas).

{Again with the not knowing the source... Pinterest!}
And then, of course, there's this...  While I'm not the biggest Halloween fan (I don't mind some decoration but nothing scary), this is adorable!  Who would've thought?  Buttons on a pumpkin!

{Found on Pinterest but originally from here}

But these are so cute, too!  Good thing I bought 3 faux-pumpkins!  But can I just say, not having a Hobby Lobby nearby is cutting into my creativity -- the nearest one is about an hour away!

Fall means the glorious return of cooler weather and sweaters and boots and comfy and cozy...

And I wish my fall wardrobe looked remotely this fabulous.

Goal for Fall:  look effortlessly chic.  Need:  all new clothes.

Like this...

And this...
Fall means it's finally time for shopping.  And crafts.  And hot chocolate.  And fall festivals and Halloween costumes. And all things wonderful!  Oh, how I love Fall!

Happy Fall, y'all!

P.s. If you're not on Pinterest yet, you really should be!  I can get lost for hours on this site with absolutely no remorse!

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

This Lil' Birdie Goes Shopping: Leather Chairs

I have my heart set on finding fashionable leather chairs for our living room. FH has his heart set on recliners. Me, not so much, but since he's been so sweet about letting me pick practically everything (aka: everything), I figured recliners couldn't hurt.

Then I saw this...

And I realized something. Recliners can hurt. And that one right there hurts my heart.

But surely somewhere there has to be a pretty leather recliner that looks more like a club chair? That's a good compromise, right?

Enter Pottery Barn and their gorgeous manhattan collection...

Oh, be still, my beating heart! I seriously lust after this furniture. Our closest Pottery Barn is an hour away, and if I had the time, I would go & just visit this recliner.

But alas, I have no time nor do I have the spare cash to fork over $2000 per recliner (we need two).

And so the hunt begins.

This one isn't so bad. And it's a La-Z-Boy which should make FH happy, but it seems a little too "fluffy" in the seat region (which is essentially like telling a chair it has a big butt).

This one could be a possibility in a darker leather, but the arms are too modern & boxy. I need an arm I can comfortably sit on. This is not that arm.

I'm starting to really like this one. At first I kept thinking maybe it was a little bit too "man cave-esque" to go in our living room but it just looks so comfortable. I can see myself curled up watching whatever Swamp show FH has chosen for our nightly entertainment. Mmmm... Cozy.

I have a feeling this one will be a budget-buster, too, since it's from Thomasville, but a good recliner will last for years & should be a well thought-out purchase.

This is what I will continue to tell myself as I spent way too many hours agonizing over this decision. I can justify anything.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

This Lil' Birdie Sews: Onesie Dresses

We've talked about this before.  I'm not the best seamstress ever.  I can sew straight lines and I can imagine very cute things in my head; but rarely do those two combine with fabric to make cute things.  My Houndstooth GameDay top was the first exception.  And it gave me the confidence to make this...

A tiny little onesie dress for a sweet customer who has become a dear friend.  I cannot wait to meet Miss Ella Reagan and see her in her new dress.  Personally, I think it's stinkin' adorable, and I might be just a *little* bit biased.

What do you think?  Have my sewing skills improved as much as I think they have?

P.s. A big THANK YOU to BananaBearBoutique for the tutorial!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

This Lil' Birdie Sews: Gameday Top

During one of the MANY MANY MANY hours I spend on Pinterest, I came across this adorable tutorial from Sweet Verbena.  While I'm not exactly an expert seamstress (nothing with curves, please!), I figured this would be one project I might could easily tackle.

I didn't have any type of "knit" like she recommends, but I didn't have some good basic cotton in a black and white houndstooth print, so I decided to make a little Game Day top since we're officially in football season now (Roll Tide, everyone!).  And since it's amazingly hot in Alabama until oh, about October, I volunteered to make one for my future sister-in-law too!  This one started out as hers, but I accidentally cut it a little too short (it sits just below my waistband, and sweet future s-i-l is a good 4-6 inches taller than me!). 

I had to do a little more finish work than in the tutorial so that the edges wouldn't fray, but I think it turned out pretty cute!

I'll be sure to post a picture when I actually get to wear it!  

Monday, September 5, 2011

This Lil' Birdie is Getting Married

(I'm warning you now, this is a LONG post with LOTS of pictures, but it's well worth your time! Promise!)

It's official!!

Sweet boyfriend is no longer the boyfriend!  He's future hubby (aka: FH!)!

One incredibly slow Saturday at work, FH's mom walks in (she's also my boss) holding a beautiful arrangement of alstroemerias (my favorite flowers).

Me: "Ooh, pretty! Who are those for?"  Future MIL: "You!"

And then she hands me this.

Operation VISH (Very Important Scavenger Hunt).... at this point I kinda knew what was going on, but it was still exciting!
I'm currently obsessed with a nursery glider we have in our store.  It's a fabulous suzani print that absolutely MUST MUST MUST come live with me soon!  This was under the seat cushion....

We actually met at a Mexican restaurant on The Strip in Tuscaloosa.  My comment about his purple shirt got us talking.  So off towards campus on Football Fan Day (oh, and did I mention it was also Sorority Rush Week's Bid Day?) in the worst traffic of the year... to El Rincon...

This was taped to the front door (lucky no one pulled it down!!)

FH's old roommate was very much a part of our relationship when we first started dating. "Rob" actually slept on the couch in FH's condo.  That couch has been moved, but this was in its place...

At this point I'm thinking, OMG, this is really happening.  He's upstairs.  Wait.  Where was his car? 

At the top of the stairs, this was sitting on his open computer...

Both doors upstairs are closed, so I assumed he was hiding behind one of them.  And for the life of me, I could NOT get his computer to open.  He normally has it password protected and I tried at least 6 times to type that password in correctly.  Seriously?!  Are my hands shaking this much?! Finally I had to text him.  The reply?

"Just hit enter"

Lemme tell you, I'm genius. 

Here's the video....

Isn't he adorable?!

So I head off to my old apartment complex where I lived when we started dating (the "Mont by the River").

And this is what's taped up outside of my old apartment (and when I say taped, I'm talking I took paint off the post when I took it down!!)....
1. He hates Pride & Prejudice.  I love it.  We watched it on one of our first dates.  He suffered through the whole thing.  I think he might love me a little bit.
2. I had mice in this apartment.  Not pets.  Wild, field mice.  Ick.  This is why I moved.

But my clue led me on to our church and I found this...

This one made me cry.  Big time.  So sweet.  And I haven't even mentioned this before but FH and I bought a house (but aren't living together) so that's where I went to find this...

This one's hard to read, but it says my furry friend (aka: Puppy) had my last clue.  My first thought?  Oh, no, what did he tape to my dog?!

But it wasn't taped to sweet Isabelle; just to the gate I use to keep her from roaming the house and making messes...

So on my way upstairs, I notice that my flowers somehow made it from work to the house, and I snapped a picture...

They're lovely!

When I got to the third to last step upstairs, FH (standing in our bonus room) dropped to one knee.  I lost it.  I don't remember the last few steps, exactly what he said, or even looking at the ring, but I remember one thing...

"I want to spend the rest of my days with you.  Will you marry me?"

"YES!!!!!!"  Cry cry cry.  Blubber blubber blubber.  Ring on finger.

Next thing out of my mouth?

 "You couldn't have done this on a day when I actually washed my hair?"