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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Christmas Sweet Potatoes that melt in your mouth...Ummm

Christmas is my favorite holiday.  It's truly the only time of year that I truly enjoy cooking a great big meal.  I have the traditional Christmas dinner of ham, potatoes, corn, bread, green bean casserole, and pies.  Many years ago, I found a recipe for sweet potatoes, not really sure whether my family would like it. 

I usually follow a recipe exactly the first time I make it but on this one I decide to play with right away.  For instance, I knew that my kids would not eat it unless it was a bit sweeter.  I added more brown sugar, cinnamon, butter and pecans. It really paid off, it has become a holiday favorite that my family can't live without. I will share this favorite for everyone to enjoy this Christmas.




Ingredients:
  • Whole Pecans
  • Evaporated Milk
  • Butter
  • Flour
  •  Brown Sugar
  •  Eggs
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Cinnamon
 
1. Peel about 6 large Sweet Potatoes, cut into large cubes and boil until completely soft.  Drain in a colander for about 10 minutes.  In a large bowl mash sweet potatoes very well, you can also use a food processor but make sure not to puree. 
 

2.   Place sweet potatoes into Kitchen Aid mixer, add 2 large eggs and 2 cans of evaporated milk into the sweet potatoes.  Blend until well mixed.
 
3.  In a food processor, add 2 cups whole pecans, 2 sticks of soften salted butter, 1 tablespoon of cinnamon, and some of the 2 cups of flour.  Pulse together adding the flour a little at a time.  You want this to resemble a crumble topping, so you may need to add a bit more flour.
 
4.  Place sweet potato mixture into large baking casserole.  Take half of the crumble from step 3 and stir lightly into mixture.  Smooth and add the remaining topping to the top.  Cover with foil and place in 450 degree oven for 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 40 minutes.  Remove foil for the last 10 minutes for a prettier dish.
 
5.  Take out of the oven and let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

 
This recipe is sure to become a holiday favorite.  Even my husband who has never liked sweet potatoes, enjoys these. 
 


Cr8ting Christmas Memories


Christmas time is a magical time for me! My first Christmas in this country was in 1981, just one month after I was adopted from Costa Rica. I spoke very little English and didn't really understand what was going on but was mesmerized by the decorations, food and presents. I have never forgotten my first Christmas gift; it was a collector Carmen Madame Alexander doll, which I still have. I also received many other gifts from my very large Polish family but the doll was extra special to me because it was from my mom.

For many years my family and I shared many great holidays, even if stressed and tired. When I started my own family, I wanted to make sure that I made their holidays just as special and memorable. Growing up very poor, I have definitely over compensated when it came to gift buying, but I also realized that creating traditions was more about the special activities that surround the holidays. For instance, when I was a child we always spent Christmas Eve with my mom's family and went to midnight mass together. I wanted to start doing this with my own family but found that it was not feasible with an infant, and many more to follow. I also wanted to incorporate something from both of our cultures (myself, Costa Rican and my husband, German). I found some information about German Christmas traditions but as they celebrate Christmas differently than Americans, I had to improvise.

Nearly twenty years ago, I found an old folk lore book about the holidays and one particular tradition has mixed roots in both of our ethnicity, that is that of the Christmas Pickle. The German version has a decoration shaped like a pickle, which is hidden on the Christmas tree.  The finder of the pickle is rewarded with good fortune in the coming year or an additional present.  What I really like about this version is that it encourages children to take the time to enjoy the beauty of the Christmas tree, the ornaments and the history of Christmas. The Spanish version is based on two boys heading home for the holidays from boarding school. On their journey, they are stuffed into a pickle barrel by a mean innkeeper and later freed when St. Nicholas took pity on them and tapped the barrel with his staff.

In my home, we decorate our trees together and leave the Christmas pickle hanging on an ornament hook for Santa to hide. The child who finds the ornament first, opens the first gift (remember I improvised). I had a really hard time finding a Christmas pickle...but I succeeded and it lasted for many years before it was broken. The second time around the tradition had spread and many more oranments were available.

While I still enjoy the thought of this tradition being a culmination  of both our cultures, I have found out that it is actually an American tradition started by Woolworth in the late 1890’s to market German blown glass ornaments.  Wow, I’m a little disappointed but will still continue this tradition in my home.  I may not tell the kids, though…

To read more about these traditions check out this site: http://bit.ly/V4APun

I also found some fun tutorials on how to make your own Christmas pickle at:

Free Christmas Sewing Pattern: Pickle Ornament by Abby Glassenberg  http://bit.ly/12yGyL8

And another one by Connie http://bit.ly/T6oHrX

Happy Holidays!
 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Halloween Party for Boys

My 10 year old son, for the first time wanted to have a Halloween party. I have to say with 5 kids, the youngest one has from time to time not gotten as much attention as the older kids have. Life just happens, I started working more when he was young, I didn't have as much time to be involved in his school activities, and around the same time decided to go back to school to earn my degree. I have had to let some things go, and I am ashamed that it had to be being more involved in his school activities. So when he asked, I was thinking NO WAY, I don't have any time. But I really thought about how excited he was and decided to say yes.



Since then I have been racking my mind on how to make this party fun, exciting yet economical. I started by designing my own invites. I love Microsoft Publisher, I used the builtin clip art and came up with these cute invites:


 Next, I need to move onto decorations for the food. I want something that is fun yet not too babyish, the boys are 10-11 years old. I found some really great ideas on Pinterest (pics below):
 
These adorable pop bottles will be easy to do and will add a small detail that kids are sure to notice. 


Meredith Stebbing added this cute green pudding in clear cups, that the only work involves drawing faces on the cups with a sharpie. http://pinterest.com/pin/195484440046252382/


Carmella Calhoun came up with these cute little treats made out of pretzels, that will be sure to excite the kids. So simple and delicious.  http://pinterest.com/pin/195484440045089599/




For my indoor decorations, I found the following video on Youtube.com http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZVQs_Z_hMcA&feature=related:


video


 http://happyauer.com  has some really cute and inexpensive ideas.  Some take a little time but are well worth it.

These are just a few ideas (that are borrowed from the many talented people on the web) that I will be using for my son's upcoming party.  I will repost pictures of how everything turns out.

Thanks for reading and Happy Crafting,

Ana












Monday, October 22, 2012

Come Sew with Me!

I grew up with my mother sewing me pretty little dresses, skirts and blouses.  I wish that I had paid more attention to what she was doing, she made it seem so simple.  I began my own sewing journey in 1994, when for my first year wedding anniversary my loving husband gave me a Brother sewing machine.  At the time, I really hadn't expressed much interest in it except that I had mentioned to him that I wish I had learned when I was younger.  I am in awe at the things he actually hears me SAY.... 

At first I tried simple patterns and got clothing that resembled somewhat awkward tents but I persisted to no avail.  I am by nature not a quitter, so I decided to take my first sewing lesson at Hancock Fabrics.  I wanted to get the most out of my lesson, so instead of taking their advice and choosing a simple pattern, I chose an advanced dress pattern by Vogue.  I completed the dress and even wore it to a few weddings and I'm a little ashamed to admit it, but it still hangs in my closet even though it hasn't seen the light of day since about 1998. 

Over the years, sewing has come in handy, as a mother of 5children, who regularly rip their clothing, knowing how to do simple repairs has saved me a ton of money.  I have also enjoyed the many years of creating special costumes for my kids.  I have made many princess, witch and cheerleader dresses.  I have also made many costumes for my sons, surprisingly, when my son chose to be a werewolf, I could not find a ready to wear costume. 

I have to admit, that my sewing obsession sometimes has to do more with the fabric itself.  I sometimes find prints that I just fall in love with and then can't decide if I want to cut it up.  I know weird, but if you are a true sewing enthusiast, you will understand this. 

So, where do I get some of my favorite fabrics?  Here is a small list of online companies that I like to order from:

Distinctive Fabric Superstore: Has a nice selection of fabrics, prints and good prices.  I especially like their clearance section because I like to get the most for my dollars.  Another plus is that you can purchase by the yard or bolt.  http://www.distinctivefabric.com/

Warehouse Fabrics Inc.:  An excellent site to find retro fabrics for the mod decorators or fashionistas!  I love their huge selection of fabrics from the past to today.  What I especially like about this site is that you can search your fabrics by designer, very helpful when you have already started a project and ran out of fabric.  http://warehousefabricsinc.com/RETRO.html

Amy Butler Fabrics: This is by far my favorite fabrics, but they are a bit pricy.  The prints are lively and the colors are wonderful.  I tend to use these fabrics for smaller projects but with a larger budget it makes beautiful clothing as well.  http://www.amybutlerdesign.com/products/

In this post I wanted to share a bit about my sewing history and give you some excellent places to look for your next sewing project.  I hope that you will also share with me how you got started and where you find your favorite fabrics.  Thanks

Happy Crafting,

Ana

P.S.  This is a small pic of Amy Butlers Love Collection titled Bliss Bouquet/Emerald, which is currently on my to buy list!



Wednesday, October 17, 2012

What is Cr8ivecrafts?

Cr8iveCrafts is all out appreciating the hard work that goes into creating beautiful art of all styles.  For me, I am an avid jewelry maker, sewer and decorator.  I have on many occasions looked for inspiration from others and have found a vast assortment of talented people on the web.  I have appreciated and admired their skill, creativity, and hard work, so I have dedicated this blog to sharing their talent.

This week I would like to share one of my favorite jewelry artists, RockLove Jewelry.  Designer/artist Allison Hourcade's anthem is "centered on the lost art forms of jewelry with special attention to Gothic architecture, exotic destinations and the belief that jewelry should tell a back story as interesting as your own."  Allison designs, cast's and produces all her designs in New York, which I appreciate because I love American made jewelry.   I also love that each piece gives a little history into the origin of the design.  Excellent job and beautiful work!

Here is one of my favorites:

Vice Clockwork Necklace
Inspired by ornate antique grandfather clock hands - to each our little vices. Hand cut and polished intricate clock hand pattern in sterling silver accented by your choice of silver Swarovski pearl, faceted or smooth onyx, or garnet.

Check out her website at rocklove.com

Happy Crafting,

Ana