The Best Christmas Yet!

MG and I are leaving for Texas this week! I can’t wait to visit my family and friends back home. I miss them dearly. I better get to doing laundry and packin!

Sadly, no super sadly, I’m not bringing my Chubaloo home with me. There’s too much traveling to bring him along. I’m torn… already. And I haven’t even left this guy yet.

On a happy note though, since we’re leaving so soon, we celebrated Christmas with friends early this year. Lots of dinner gatherings, drinks a-flowin, and gift unwrapping!

Get this – best present yet. Actually, I don’t know if anyone can top this.

KitchenAid

I finally got a KitchenAid mixer!!!!

I’ve been eyeing this for so long, but for some reason MG and I didn’t put it on our wedding registry, and we haven’t mustered up the courage to get one. I have no idea why… But finally! My sweetest of sweet and dearly beloved friends got this for me for Christmas.

This has got to be the nicest gift I’ve ever gotten from a friend. Thank you so much for an incredible gift. I wholeheartedly love it and cannot show you enough appreciation.

Now, friends, what should I make with this? Give me some ideas!

What did you do this weekend?
Jay

  

DIY Wine Bags & Giveaway!

Congratulations to Connie for winning this giveaway! Please check your email for shipping information. Thanks to those who participated. It’s an easy DIY, so you can still own these wine bags!

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I love making gifts for people. I enjoy spending time getting creative and thrifty! Since Christmas is coming up, I’ve been busy coming up with ideas for presents. Repurposing things for gifts is my hobby. That’s a hobby right?

For instance, I love using paper grocery bags for gift wrap. I like using string or baking twine for bows. It’s also time to bust out those cassette tape pom poms!

Since my wedding, I’ve had a bunch of burlap laying around. While I was drifting off to sleep, I came up with the idea of making wine bags with the burlap (I tend to come up with the best ideas while I’m about to fall asleep. I have a journal to jot down my thoughts since I’ll wake up and totally forget). These make fantastic gift bags, and it’s great if you’re hosting a wine tasting party!

Tis the season of giving, so here’s another giveaway! Just comment on this post for a chance to win.

Bags

Materials:

  • 60 inch width by 30 inch length sheet of burlap
    • As long as you have 10 inch width by 30 inch length for each bag, you’re good to go
  • Scissors
  • Iron
  • Sewing machine
    • For the no sew approach, you’ll need double sided tape
  • Ribbon

Burlap
You need burlap, minus the cat! For some reason kitties love burlap

Here’s the tutorial:

DIY Wine Bags

CRAFTER’S TIP:

  • Burlap can be hard to manage. What I typically do to ensure I’m cutting straight is take one strand of burlap and pull the entire string through. It will create a straight line to serve as a cutting guide (numbers 2 & 3 in the tutorial above).
  • For the new sew approach, use double sided tape to tape down the edges after ironing.

For the mystery tasting party, each wine was put in the burlap bags so that all labels and types were hidden. Guests were asked to taste each and rate aroma, body, taste, and finish. After adding up the scorecard, you find out which wine you like most. It’s so fun when you find out that sometimes the cheapest wine is actually your favorite!

I created a scorecard for the wine tasting party. Feel free to use this template! Download it here.

Pens
Scorecards and pens, with glasses ready to go

Cheese
Cheese is necessary on any and every occasion

Bottles
Wine bags are numbered and hidden

PartyEnjoying at this point!

Tasting

For a chance to win three wine bags, comment on this post!

Cheers!
Jay
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Only one entry per email. Email must be valid. Shipping address must be in the United States. This giveaway ends at 11:30pm PST on 12/10/13. Winner will drawn and announced on Wednesday, 12/11/13 at 12:00am PST via blog and email provided.

  

Chocolate Chia Bites

Set

We’ve been having so much fun with Chia seeds – putting them in juice and making strawberry jam! Now let’s make some chocolate bites!

I don’t have a sweet tooth, I’m definitely a savory girl. Give me Cheeto’s or beef jerky before bed, but there are some days where I like to end on something sweet. Now that it’s getting colder, give me a glass of wine and throw in some of these chocolate chia bites! Doesn’t that sound lovely?

These little treats are super easy to make! Save them for yourself or give them away as holiday gifts. I’m sure you’ll be quite popular if you bring them to work for your colleagues!

ingredients

What you’ll need:

  • Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 1/2 cup of chia seeds
  • Trail Mix (I bought my big jar from Costco)
  • Silicone mat (or parchment paper)
  • 1 Ziploc bag
  • Scissors

Directions:

1. Half your bag of chocolate chips into the Ziploc, and microwave for 10 second bursts until the chocolate has melted. Do NOT overheat or the chocolate becomes thick.
2. Once melted, snip off a corner of the Ziploc.
3. Now pipe the chocolate onto the mat or parchment paper. Squeeze lightly so that the squirts are bite sized.
4. Once all the chocolate is piped, sprinkle chia seeds and add trail mix. Lightly push the trail mix into the chocolate so it stays when set.
5. Let the chocolate harden for about 10 minutes. I like to stick them in the fridge so that it sets quicker and the chocolate is a bit cold. Once the chocolate is hard, you should be able to pop each chocolate chia bite off one by one.

ReadyLay everything out so it’s accessible – makes things easier

MeltMelted chocolate – I like to microwave in burst and squeeze the chocolate around in the bag so it melts evenly

SnipSnip the end for piping

SquirtSquirts

SetLet it set for about 10 minutes – quicker if you put them in the fridge

I call these my healthy chocolate bites, wouldn’t you agree? It’s definitely justified if you have more than 5, maybe 8, okay fine, 10.

Serve

Is this something you will try to make? Will you be making these for yourself or someone else?

Enjoy this recipe! Yay for Chia!
Jay

  

Narnia, Pizza, and Dinner at Dave’s

It was a fun and relaxing weekend with friends, one of the best kind of weekends!

Friday night:  I went to a Narnia musical hosted by Neighborhood Church in Castro Valley. For $6 I didn’t expect it to be anything extraordinary. I was WRONG! It was fabulous! Think Broadway – gorgeous sets, beautiful singing, lots of people in the audience. I never noticed the parallels of Christianity in the story before (probably because I was not Christian when I read the book/saw the movie). While watching this musical this time around, it hit me… I’m Edmund, a traitor and one who wants earthly riches. It gave Aslan a whole new meaning to me, one who would sacrifice himself for the sake saving me.

Here’s a picture of Eileen and me excited for the show!
Narnia

Saturday:  I hosted a “Make Your Own Pizza” luncheon with my good friend’s crazy boys! I hadn’t seen them in a while so I thought it would be fun to see them and make pizzas!

Look at these little cuties!
Pizza Party!
One kid put 5 layers of meat on! The other wanted only crust. Kids… don’t understand them! You may be wondering if I’m thinking about having one now… NOPE! You gotta wait! For now, I’ll play with them ^^^!

Sunday:  After church, MG and I went to Dave’s house for dinner. Lots of food and good conversations.

Look at Aaron and all these ribs!Aaron and ribs!

Lastly, Chubs got a sweet gift from Holly! He LOVES this thing! He’s totally posing in the second picture, so GQ right?
Chubs' Fish

What did you do this past weekend?

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Check at Neighborhood Church here

  

My sweet friend, Jeremiah

I met Jeremiah through a really good friend of mine!  Initially when I first quit my job, we were going to take up blogging together. I told him my plans. He told me his. Then he bought a cup to kick start my ideas.

After a few months of mulling over ideas for content, I gave up… I didn’t want to think about it anymore, and day after day, I laid in bed until noon because I was somewhat in a depression mode – didn’t feel like I was useful.

Then I thought about the cup I had gotten from Jeremiah. It gave me hope, and I didn’t want it to go to waste. So I picked up blogging again, laid out the content I would write for the month of August, and now I’m writing.

Jeremiah, thanks for the encouragement to keep going.

There are days when you just need a small pick me up, and a good friend can do just that!

Thanks Jeremiah!

The cup is from Jay Mart (a perfect cup for my blog!). And it has a kitty!