Saturday, December 31, 2011

Zoo Two

I have, as always, run out of steam when it comes to sorting through holiday and vacation pictures in a desperate attempt to get them all posted before the new year.  So instead to wrap up 2011 with that I'll show the last of my sewing projects from the year.  Last New Year's I set a goal of completing 12 sewing projects in 2011.  Most recently, when I found out my friend Maia was pregnant, I knew exactly what quilt I was going to make for her baby.  She mentioned time and again how much she loved the quilt I'd made for Joseph that's been hanging over his bed since his 1st birthday.  

To remind you, here is the post about it.

But this is the girly version for her little girl Chloe.

The space over Joseph's bed was limited for hanging a quilt, so I intentionally made something on the small side.  I needed to add a few blocks to make Chloe's quilt a little bigger.  Joe Joe eagerly points out which ones are the same as his and which ones are different.  I wish I could make a whole quilt out of panda blocks!  Soooooo cute!

We had to include a leopard!  It's the name of Joseph's preschool class this year, and I just love the way the tail crosses over the edge of the block.

These days no quilt is complete without a pieced back.  How cute is the solitary elephant in the backing?!  It happens to go with the bedding and colors they picked out for the nursery.   I've also really been loving making the "label" part of the actual quilt backing instead of something tacked on at the end.

I seriously L.O.V.E. the polka dot binding.  I am a perpetual believer in the thought that almost every quilt must contain some polka dots and/or some stripes.  Preferably both!

I set out to complete 12 sewing projects in the past year.  In addition to Chloe's baby quilt (13), my other projects were:
Greyson's baby quilt (1)
Angie's 40th birthday quilt and market totes (2 & 3)
Preschool teacher quilts (4 & 5)
Jackie Brown's baby quilt (6)
Twin baby quilts for Jacob & Declan (7 & 8)
Benjamin's Super WHY! cape (9)
Joseph's shark costume (10)
Our Angry Bird costumes (11 & 12)

This year?  No resolutions.  I'd love to actually make a quilt for myself.  I'd really like to run a 10K.  But you know what?  Who cares?  Last year rocked!  As has every year that I can remember.  I love my life and just need to keep living it!  Happy New Year everyone!!!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Countdown to Christmas

Oh what fun we had with our 1st ever Advent calendar this year!  It conveniently counted down not only the days til Christmas but the days til we left for Louisiana to visit family.  The theme of the Lego City calendar was a little crazy with all the cops and bad guys and weapons, but it came through in the end with Santa and lots of presents around the hearth and tree.  Joseph would wake up each morning and want to run downstairs to tear open the little door and put the pieces together.  

Just 2 days before they had a cute little "Winter Party" at preschool where Joe Joe got one of his best gifts ever - we said yes when they handed out "brown milk."  Hey, I held out 4 years, 5 months and 4 days.  I fought the good fight and the boy deserved it.

In addition to the (obligatory?) gift cards for all the teachers and assistants I put together apothecary jars with each of their favorite treats.  The director got a jar full of my chocolate and candy coated marshmallows that she loved at the Thanksgiving feast.

On Christmas Eve we got Joseph all dressed up in his adorable little blazer and took him to the children's mass at our church.  He loves all the singing, and Santa even makes a guest appearance at the end.  We then were invited to a delicious meal and fabulous company at our dear friends house.

After finally getting the little one of to bed we were able to spend time with our other boys, Simon & Jeffrey, while exchanging our grown up gifts.  Then it was all about getting things ready for when Joseph woke up at the crack of dawn.

Joseph was thrilled to say the least!  Santa came through with the things he asked for - the "Dinosaur Train" time tunnel, legos, and a basketball net, plus so much more.  Even though this picture looks like it was taken the same night, it was just that early on Christmas morning that it was still pitch black even when we were done opening gifts.

Joe Joe scored big at home, but that was only the beginning.  After playing for just a little while we packed our bags and flew down south to continue the festivities in Louisiana.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

ICE! ICE! Baby

(Sorry, had to recycle that title from last year.  There's just none better!)  

Last week we had a chance to see the ICE! exhibit at the National Harbor, which is becoming an annual tradition for us.  It's a festive display carved out of 2 million pounds of ice by dozens of Chinese artisans over the course of an entire month.  It's housed in a giant tent that is kept at zero degrees.  This year's theme is "Merry Madagascar" based on the Dreamworks animated holiday TV special of the same name.

It is soooooo cold that even these big parkas on top of your own coat barely keep you warm.

The story goes that Santa crash lands on the island of Madagascar and develops amnesia when he bumps his head.  The usual suspects - Alex, the lion, Marty, the zebra, Gloria, the hippo, and Melman, the giraffe - along with the spunky penguins devise a plan to save Christmas and deliver the presents all over the world themselves.  In the end the lemur King Julian, who caused the crash, gets himself on Santa's good list after all.

In the middle is a huge slide made entirely of ice which Joe Joe and Brent tried out.

Afterwards we checked out the festivities around the Gaylord Resort and walked along the waterfront.  The sun was setting and it was fun seeing planes coming in to land across the Potomac River at National airport.

Right before an amazing dinner at Rosa Mexicano (again) we stopped by the beautiful tree.

Notice what's in the lower left hand corner of the picture above?  It's part of the "Awakening" statue on the beach right below the plaza.

The tree changes colors a few times from different floodlights.  So much fun for the kids to watch!

Hopefully we'll be able to keep up this tradition for many years.  It's been such a wonderful part of celebrating the holidays for us!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Baker Man

That's one of my many titles around this time of the year.  I'm frequently baking for my office, Brent's office, Joseph's preschool and friends or other random parties.

Every year I make countless dozens of the famous addictive chewy ginger cookies.  Mexican hot chocolate cookies and pumpkin bread have become new standards since last year.  Nowadays it seems I can't let any event go by without making fondant covered sugar cookies.


Every year I try a few new things.  Cherry walnut rugelach from the King Arthur cookbook were fantastic!  As were the chocolate dipped marshmallows with sprinkles and toffee chips.  I also tried some cranberry pistachio bark.  Had I had more time, I also wanted to do peppermint meringues.  Every year I always wind up having to cut something :(

Half of the fun is in packaging the cookies and treats up as gifts.  I finally remembered to use the "Baked by Carl" stickers I ordered last year from tinyprints.

Brent's staff always looks forward to the treat boxes at their holiday party every year.

We were invited to our neighbor's for Christmas Eve dinner this year and I volunteered to help out.  I wonder why they asked me to do dessert......  By then I had pretty much run out of all the cookies I'd made so I went for a classic, a rich chocolate cake from one of the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks.  That would have been enough, but I knew I had to make some ice cream when I came across the recipe for peppermint stick gelato.  So delicious, and a perfect combination!


We always make sure to save some goodies for Santa!