Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Our Holiday Home Tour

A quick tour of our holiday home. 



















 I hope you have a peaceful holiday, whatever you're celebrating.
 Enjoy this special time!
See you in 2015.
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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

{Photography} Making Your Christmas LIghts Twinkle in Photos

Isn't this a fun effect?  I found a simple tutorial here for getting your Christmas lights to twinkle in photos.  
I used the kit lens that came with my Rebel 2Ti and a tripod.  Set the camera to manual (M) on the tripod. If you don't have a tripod, any stable surface should work.   The key to getting the sparkle is a very small aperture (meaning a large f-stop number) so set that as high as possible.  I set the ISO to 800.  With the high aperture setting, you need a slow shutter speed or the photo will be blurry.  I played around with the shutter speed until I got the effect I wanted.   I didn't use my remote but I did set the timer so the camera would be still when the photo was taken.  Below are the settings for the corresponding photos.  
Settings:
ISO 800
 Aperture f/29
Shutter speed 8.0
Settings:
ISO 800
Aperture f/22 
Shutter speed 8.0
Settings:
ISO 800
Aperture f/22 
Shutter speed 1.3
Settings:
ISO 800
 Aperture f/29
Shutter speed 8.0

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Monday, December 22, 2014

{Recipe} Peppermint Brownie Bites


I made these for a Christmas celebration at my daughter's school.  She said were gone in the morning so I think they were pretty tasty.  Oooey gooey chocolate chip brownies with cream mint icing and a minty Hershey Kiss on top!!
 I found the idea here but I used brownie mix (Ghirardelli's is the best!).
I baked up one batch of brownies in mini muffin tins, then iced them with peppermint buttercream icing (1 stick of softened butter,  1 1/2 cups of 10x sugar,1 TBS of milk and 1/4 tsp peppermint extract). I added a Candy Cane Hershey Kiss and a few sprinkles to each one and voila!
So cute, easy and fun!
These would look great on a holiday cookie tray but they will disappear quickly!
 I love chocolate and mint combos, check out my other recipes and ideas:
Starbucks Hack Peppermint Brownie Cake Pops
Grown Up Minty Chocolate Chip Pudding Shots
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Friday, December 19, 2014

Friday Favorites Features **Party Returns Friday, January 9th**

No party today, just my features from last week's shindig.


I love how Joan@Scavenger Chic repurposed a family heirloom--her grandma's sled!
Winnie@Something Sweet shows us how to make Rich Challah Bread with Whole Wheat Flour. This looks amazing!
Amy@Her Tool Belt built this Rustic Christmas Tree by herself. Maybe I'll try this next year. Pinning!

**We'll return on January 9th with a giveaway opportunity to kick things off in the new year**
 I hope you have a wonderful, magical holiday, thanks for linking up and visiting!!
I have a few posts scheduled for next week and then I'll be taking time off to enjoy my holiday.




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Thursday, December 18, 2014

{Recipe} Christmas Morning Cranberry Cheese Bread

I've mentioned our annual cranberry bread making tradition but never shared the recipe on the blog.
Until now!
You can see that our recipe card is well worn and used. I got the recipe from a coworker and we've been making this bread for over 20 years but only at Christmas time.  We always have it as part of our breakfast on Christmas morning.  We also give it out friends and family so we usually make a lot.  If the idea of cheese in a cranberry bread sounds weird to you, just give it a chance. It doesn't taste cheesy at all, it adds a richness to the bread but you can leave it out if you like.
Ingredients:
(This will make one really big(9x5x3) loaf filled almost to the top or you can use foil loaf pans, filling them half way) It rises!
***
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp freshly grated orange peel*(I use a box grater)
2 TBS shortening
Juice from one orange *(grate peel first)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (about 6 ounces)
1 beaten egg
1 cup cranberries (halved or chopped up in food processor)
1/3 cup finely chopped walnuts
***
Preheat oven to 350F.
Grease loaf pan(s).
A food processor really speeds up the process. We use it to grate the cheese and to chop up the cranberries and the nuts(not washing in between because it's all going to get combined anyway). Grate the orange peel on a box grater before juicing the orange.
Measure flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and peel into a bowl. Cut in shortening. Add water to juice to measure 3/4 cup (or use orange juice), mix in with cheese and egg. Stir in cranberries and nuts.
Spoon batter into pan(s).   We fill the pans about half full of batter because it rises quite a bit. Bake 60-70 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.  If you're baking smaller sized pans, it will cook much faster so keep an eye on it.  This year's batch was 3 times the recipe and we got one large pan and nine mini foil pans out of it.  We've done up to 6 times the recipe in the past.
I just noticed that the card says to remove bread from pan and let loaf stand for at least 8 hours. We never do that.   It's delicious right out of the oven.  It does get better the next day though.  We let the pans cool and wrap them in plastic wrap and foil if we're freezing them.
Serve lightly toasted with a little butter if you want to be decadent. To be really decadent, spread butter on both sides and fry it up.  Makes a great breakfast, dessert or snack.
What's your Christmas morning traditional breakfast?


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