Friday, December 30, 2011

Handmade Gifts (Part One)

Karlie (our niece) got the Selena Mermaid from Wee Wonderfuls, my third project and gift for her from the book.  I enlarged the pattern by 150% to give her a little more impact.  She turned out super cute and is a pretty quick project.

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Karlie also received her very own "Packpack" made by me from this Made by Rae pattern.  The main fabric and yellow strapping are from City Craft in Dallas, I love that store!  I put vinyl on the fabric to make it more durable.  I also added the outer pocket, though I messed up and had to sew the velcro to the flap after I had put it together.  Not that big of a deal though.  Over all I think it came together really well.  It is not nearly as hard as you would think, or as I thought it would be anyways.

Sorry these pictures are sideways, they are from my mom's camera and flickr stream. 
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It fits perfectly!
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I also made her a scarf, one of eleven handmade scarves that I made as gifts and neglected to photograph. That's what happens when you do everything last minute. Oh well. I'll share more handmade gifts with you next week.

We have good friends coming over tonight for dinner and since we have no New Years plans we will probably cook a nice meal and watch some netflix tomorrow night. Unless any of you want to invite us out for New Years.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Post Christmas Catch Up

I have caught up on sleep, recovered from the stress of work and sleep deprivation and thoroughly enjoyed Christmas Eve, Christmas day and the two days off that followed. I'm sorry I have been so absent here, I'm not going to lie, the weeks leading up to Christmas were quite stressful for me.  Waiting til the last two weeks before the holiday to shop, bake, make and wrap gifts was just too much this time.

We were able to see our Cervantez nieces and nephews two nights in a row.
Cervantez Kids on Christmas Eve Eve

Frank got the idea to learn some Christmas songs on guitar so that he could play with and for the kids.  At first they all said they weren't going to sing but they really got into it.
We sang Jingle Bells, Rudolph and Feliz Navidad multiple times.
I think we have a new tradition!
Frank accompanying the kids on guitar

Cervantez kids at grandmas house on Christmas eve

We repeated the singing at my parents house.
Karlie loves to sings, and is always singing.
Yes, a new tradition for sure!
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Karlie and cousin Thomas
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We took our usual walk with Karlie to see the horses after Christmas dinner.
I love that she loves to be outside.
Karlie Christmas day

On the way back she was running a good while and saying "I run fast!".
I want to find joy in running like that.
Karlie Christmas day

Karlie Christmas day

My mom posted this picture that I took of Karlie with the caption:
I hope all of you are running off joyously into the New Year where there are lots of blessings and good things waiting for everyone.
I like the sentiment of that quote.  I am trying to do those things both literally and figuratively.  Running (or walking) for health, counting my blessings, and finding joy in the new year.

I have several handmade gifts to share with you, though I neglected to photograph the ones that I made the most of.  I guess I'll have to bribe my gift recipients to take pictures of themselves wearing my scarves.

I have plenty of New Years resolutions, as always, I want to start anew.
Mostly they come down to being more organized, planning ahead and having healthier habits.
 More specifically:
*Better meal planning, with my wacky schedule it is hard.  Planning better will also lead to healthier eating habits.
*Exercising regularly.  We want to join a gym but so does the rest of the country right now.
*A repeat of my goal for this year that didn't come to fruition: de-cluttering the house, going through all closets, drawers and cabinets to clear out excess and deep clean the house.  I also want to paint and reorganize our utility room.
*Add more personal touches to both our home and my wardrobe.  Basically being more thoughtful about my style and what I live with.
*Learn to Knit, finally!
*And start preparing for Christmas early next year.  But that goes along with better planning in general.

If you don't see me before next week, I hope you are all safe, happy and surrounded by the ones you love as you ring in the New Year.  We don't go out on New Years, but I still love it and it feels like a fresh start.

Happy New Years!

Saturday, December 10, 2011


So much to do, so little time.  I know everyone feels that way this time of year.
I'm almost finished with one big Christmas gift that I have been working on since summer.  The only one that I started on in advance.

I made cupcakes for two friends birthdays that we missed last month and they will be delivered this evening.  I used the Chocolate Cupcakes with Ganache filling from Bakergirl and the Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting from Glorious Treats.  I had the idea to top each with a blackberry, so I colored the frosting violet.  After they were piped I decided the blackberry would ruin the pretty swirl.  However, I just taste tested one with a blackberry on top.  Yum!  These cupcakes and frosting are both favorite recipes that I will use for years to come. 
Cupcakes for friends

I cut out Selena Mermaid from the Wee Wonderfuls book last night.  This will be the third, and I think, easiest project that I have made from the book for Karlie.  Bonus, I didn't even have to buy any fabric for this project.  There are only four pattern pieces.  I enlarged the pattern 1 1/2 times to give her a little more impact.  If you don't already have this book and you like to sew for kids, you should definitely get it.  The book, as well as the projects make great gifts. 
Selena mermaid

I learned a new term today from my mom (not sure where she got it).  Craft-aster.  That's what my house is.  A disaster created as a result of crafting.  My dining room is definitely a craft-aster, and the rest of my house has been neglected lately as well.  I want to decorate for Christmas, but with the mess on the craft table aka dining table there seems to be no point.  It will probably be one of those last minute, friends are coming over lets pull out some decorations type of things that I have done the past few years.

I also want to do my usual Christmas cookie baking with mom, but my schedule isn't looking too good for the coming weeks.  We shall see.
Craft-aster dining room

The Christmas Crafting will continue. I'm considering something like Anna Maria's Figure 8 scarf for gifts. What are you making for gifts? Are you buying handmade this year?

I'm still making and selling my jewelry too, by the way.
Enjoy your weekend!

Friday, December 9, 2011


These colors are making me smile.
More yarn dyeing and yarn drying.
Prewashed fabrics, ready for crafting.
I added the Selena Mermaid doll from Wee Wonderfuls to my to-make list for Karlie.

Christmas crafting

Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Lovely Day

Yesterday was lovely.
One of my birthday requests was to go fabric shopping in Dallas with mom.
We do it a couple of times a year together, hitting up the outlets on Harry Hines and a new favorite City Craft.
We were up early to take my brother to the airport. It is unusually cold for early December in Texas.

Sunrise through icy car windows.
Sunrise through icy windows

Mom bought me these gorgeous fabrics at one of the outlets.
Soft, soft cottons and courduroys for no more than $4 per yard.  Score!
New fabric

I found this Kokka fabric at City Craft for Karlie's "Pack Pack" which will be made from this Made by Rae pattern.  I am also thinking of making her a hooded cape.  Maybe with this pattern?  Though I'm having trouble with their website when trying to purchase it.  I love making things for Karlie!
Christmas crafting

Frank and I enjoyed a wonderful performance by one of my favorite bands My Morning Jacket.
It was awesome!
I know that my concert photos always look the same.  It's all lights and you can't see the band.
I still love them though.
My morning jacket

I love the holiday season but it seems more overwhelming than usual this year.
As always, I'm asking myself, why didn't I start crafting gifts months ago?
There will be crafting.  There will be baking.  There will be time with wonderful loved ones.
I'm trying not to panic, not to pressure myself to make everything and to just slow down and enjoy the season day by day.
Aaaaaaaah, off to craft, decorate, shop, make lists, visit loved ones, and on and on.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

I chopped off my hair....again

In keeping with my hair maintenance habits, I got my yearly short hair cut.  I love it.
My girl Sloan did a great job.  As always I hope to maintain it, but knowing my habits it is doubtful.
I will enjoy it while it's short though.  No more pony tails!



My inspiration was this picture found on pinterest.
I know my hair isn't that curly but I think it translated my idea well.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving was good

Thanksgiving was good.
Karlie (our niece) thought the desserts meant it was Aya's (me) birthday again.
She sang Happy Birthday to everyone, I think.

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Frank and I love to bug her and she loves us.
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We got her!
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Karlie rode the train that Poppy made her (twice) to see the horses on the other side of the neighborhood. 
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We fed the horse that came to the fence.
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Karlie and I both have sparkly shoes. 
I found them both at a thrift store on the same trip.
She Loooooves shoes.
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The desserts were great, though there were way too many. 
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Lemon Curd, you are sinful.  My first time to make you will not be my last!
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Millionaire's Shortbread was shared with family friends that we visited, more will be shared tonight and some will be frozen.  It goes a long way.
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Frank's smoked Turkey didn't come off the smoker until 2 AM yesterday but it was well worth the wait. He did a great job!
I slept for eleven hours last night and I think I have recovered from Thanksgiving at Central Market. Good thing since I'm back to work today.
Have a great weekend.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wow, yesterday nearly did me in at work!
The degree of business and mayhem has steadily increased since Saturday.  Monday afternoon I simply couldn't fight the crowd to do my own shopping when I got off work.  I finally got it done last night.  I came home so tired, but got a second wind and made two desserts last night.  I baked a pie pumpkin for the first time and used it for Pumpkin Cheesecake.  I used this recipe because I liked the proportions of crust to cheesecake.  It isn't a rated recipe so I'm a little nervous how it will taste. 



It sure looks yummy.
Pumpkin cheesecake

I also made Millionaire's Shortbread, sort of a super indulgent and rich homemade Twix bar.  I used the Salted Caramel and Chocolate Ganache that was left from my birthday cake.  I made the shortbread layer and then just melted and spread the caramel and chocolate.  I chilled it in the fridge freezer because I had to taste it last night.  You don't need much, and this filled a 9 x 13 pan, so we will be sharing with friends.  The inspiration and shortbread recipe came from this recipe in my Baked book.  Though I'm sure the results are different since I used Martha's caramel and chocolate ganache.
Either way it's delicious!
Millionaires shortbread

My friends know how much I love to cook and bestowed me with some seriously awesome cooks tools for my birthday.  I got these gorgeous handmade cutting boards, made by family friend Justin, a Cast Iron Grill Pan, an Enameled Cast Iron Skillet, and not pictured, new measuring cups and spoons.  I love cooking tools and gadgets! 

My birthday flowers.  The sunflowers outlasted everything else, so this was actually the second arrangement that I made with them. 

I still plan to make a Lemon Almond Meringue Tart from the Baked cookbook.  I have to get my act together and do that before work.  Tomorrow I will also make that Scalloped Sweet Potato and Sweet Onions with Cheddar Cheese thing that I mentioned before, yum. Then I relax, eat, hang with Karlie, etc.  I have almost survived my first holiday at Central Market, but I feel like I need a few days of sleep to recover and that is not going to happen.

I'm a bit scared to go to work today, only slightly kidding.  I close tonight.  Yesterday there were employees from all over the store and even from the district offices in to help bag groceries.  I was on a busy register most of the day and it was just non-stop.  If you have to shop today I would go early (too late) or late.  Wish me luck!

Happy Thanksgiving to you. 
I hope you are spending the day with people you love. 
I am thankful that my entire family will be together for the holiday. 
It is and always has been my favorite holiday and I don't think the mayhem at work can ruin that for me.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Happy Birthday Gretchen!

Today is my friend Gretchen's birthday. We have celebrated each others birthdays for twenty one years, along with Christmas, graduation, weddings, etc. Gretchen is my oldest friend and I love her to pieces. She is one of the most talented and driven ladies that I know. I have talked about our friendship beginnings and her talent before.

I shared an old photo booth picture of the two of us with her earlier this year and she said, "I wish we had done that every year of our friendship". Well, we didn't do a photo booth picture each year but I was inspired to find pictures of us from each year since 1990. I did find almost all of them, I'm only missing four years out of twenty one.

Some of my favorites.
1993 Visiting Gretchen in Austin


1997 Visiting G in Santa Fe

2004 At mine and Frank's wedding

I love you G!
Happy Birthday, I hope it's a great one.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Birthday Desserts

I haven't seen much of my friends and family since I started working at Central Market. I got the notion that I wanted to have a birthday party so that I could get everyone together in one place and cook and eat lots of good food. I have to admit it was a lot of work, but Frank and mom helped me out with the cooking and preparations and it was well worth it in the end.

We had a crowd, so like I mentioned last week I went a bit overboard with desserts.
I chose this Salted Caramel Chocolate Cake from Martha Stewart.  The recipe is a keeper!
I also made my Tres Leches cake, doubling the recipe with whipped cream and berries in between the four layers (I split two layers into four this time).  I opted for the Italian meringue topping like I did on the cupcakes, but didn't have a torch to brown it.  You can see where I attempted to use a lighter and gave up.  I was over being in the kitchen at that point.


Since lots of kiddos were coming I also made Vanilla Cupcakes with Strawberry Cream Cheese Frosting.  Delicious!  Unfortunately kids seem to like to lick icing off and throw away a perfectly delicious cupcake.  They don't know what they're missing!
Believe it or not almost all of that cake was eaten by the end of the night!

I received some lovely gifts from my generous friends but my most precious gift was spending time with my favorite little girl in the whole wide world, Karlie Rose.

I had a wonderful birthday and really enjoyed my party. I think I have the birthday party bug out of my system for a few years though, and will stick to entertaining smaller groups of friends and family. I will be back to share our dinner recipes soon. We did a taco and salsa bar and it was delicious!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Grandmother's Necklace

I was commissioned to make a Grandmother's necklace with eight birthstones.
The stones are Emerald, Sapphire, 3 Opals, Diamond, Garnet and Ruby.  We decided to arrange the stones by birth order and I think it worked out nicely.
I'm thrilled with the outcome!




I'm off to the zoo today with my brother and niece. I have finally recovered from my birthday weekend craziness and will post pictures and recipes soon.

The Thanksgiving craziness has already begun at work. Monday was busier than normal and I'm sure this weekend will be busy too. I have no idea what next week will have in store for me at work! It should be interesting. I need to plan out my shopping list now and not be shopping in the midst of the madness next week. I am in charge of desserts but think I want to make the Mad Hungry Scalloped Sweet Potatoes with Vidalia Onion and English Cheddar that I made last Christmas as well. What are you planning for Thanksgiving dinner? Are you trying any new recipes?