Thursday, December 25, 2014


I love sugar cookies ...... but best of all, I really love pouring over pictures (thank goodness for Pinterest !!!), of beautifully iced sugar cookies. The talent of some of those cookie decorators out there is just amazing !!!
It's taken me a while to find a recipe that I like ..... one that tastes just right, keeps its shape,  and isn't a pain to make. I've tried many, but THIS RECIPE, has become my go to sugar cookie recipe. They turn out perfectly every, single time :-)
Part two of any decorated sugar cookie, is of course the icing. I've used Royal Icing many times, and while it's easy to work with and dries really hard, to me it tastes yukky !!! Not to mention that you eat it at your own risk ..... teeth, watch out !!! Then I found THIS RECIPE ..... icing sugar cookies will never be the same again !!! It tastes so much better, and while the icing dries, allowing you to stack your cookies, it wont break your teeth !!!!
And so I give to you Christmas Cookie Platter 2014 .....

I decided to keep it simple this year (truth be told, I left making them until Christmas Eve :-).
Snowflakes (Wiltons Cookie Cutter), and Polar Bears (from a Woodland cutter set, I bought at Ikea). Only two icing colors too .... red and white. Very Scandinavian looking, which I love.
I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, how they turned out ...... my best decorated sugar cookies ever, I think.

The little polar bear is my favorite ..... all wrapped up for winter in his little scarf !!!!

I set up a little Christmas Breakfast Buffet, every Christmas morning. It's not healthy (but hey, Christmas comes but once a year !!!). We enjoy this while we open our gifts. Here is this mornings buffet ...... Shortbread, Scone with jam and cream, and Christmas Cookies.

I hope you've enjoyed a lovely day full of love, laughter and new memories with your nearest and dearest. Ours was sweet, simple, and truly lovely.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014


This little tree, has become a treasure trove of Christmas gorgeousness !!! Each ornament has a story to tell, because each one was lovingly created by hand. This entire tree is decorated with these special ornaments, and I just love it !!!!

So which little lovelies were added this year ....

 A gorgeous zipper wreath

A beautiful wire and bead tree

A lovely painted wooden egg

Some cheerful little clay toadstools (can we all say cute !!!)

A pair of cork toadstools (he has a red friend too)

A snow scene bell .... so gorgeous :-)

As you can tell our group of swappers are THE best !!! So many different talents !!!
My Friend Val hosts this little swap for us each year ...... she is a phenomenal swap mama, and an awesome friend. Thanks Val for another fantastic ornie swap .... can't wait for next years one :-)

I'll leave you now with a daytime and nighttime view of our tree, but not before I wish you and yours a very Merry and Blessed Christmas. May you enjoy and cherish  this time spent with friends and family, as we celebrate and give thanks for, the most precious gift of all ...... The birth of our Lord and Savior.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

10 YEARS ....... A DECADE ..... A BIG CHUNK OF TIME ....

10 Years ago today, our family stepped foot on American soil ..... We were ready to embark on a new adventure. We were filled with hope, excitement and optimism ..... with a little bit of anxiety and nervousness thrown into the mix, just to keep it real.

"If I could turn back time, what would you do differently?"»  I definitely have a few things on my list...

10 long years have passed .... at times I cant believe it has been so long, and other times it has felt like an eternity. I look back along the road we've traveled this past decade, and it looks nothing like we had expected it too ..... it's a road littered with heartache, disappointment, despair, hopelessness, betrayal, unemployment, damaged relationships, a loneliness that is crippling at times ..... I could list hundreds more adjectives .... it hasn't been a pretty journey.

As you'd expect with any journey, I've learned a few valuable lessons along the way ...... First World does not always mean better (and this has been particularly true in the areas of education and medicine)...... Just because we speak the same language, does not mean that we are culturally anything alike .... Cut throat means a whole lot more than I ever believed it did .... Despite what they'd have you believe, America is not foreigner friendly - I've lost count of how many times I've met people who have been very frank about telling me, that they view foreigners with suspicion (and my children go to school with their children ..... concerning on many levels)...... A journey such as this one, changes you as a person, and not always for the better - pessimism, fear and jealousy have become all too familiar to me. I don't like these character traits, but they're ever present.

This journey has been one, in which we have lost absolutely everything and gained nothing ...... however, it has also been a journey of faith for me (this in itself is priceless)- I've found myself on my knees crying out to God more times than I can count .... I believe that faith is the only reason I'm still standing 10 years on.

I do not know what the next 10 years will look like for our little family ....... frankly it terrifies me.. Added to that, is the fact that our children are 16 and 14 ..... College is so close now, as is the independence that comes with that ...... I try to spend as little time as I can thinking about that ... I dread it, I feel that when they move on (as they should), I loose the only things we have left  .... this Mama Hen is nowhere near ready for her Chicks to flee the nest !!!

I know this post is nothing like my usual crafty/foodie posts ...... There is a sense of relief  though, in having put feelings, that I've kept close to my chest,  into words after so many years. The most common question we still get asked (after where are you from), is "So do you like it here?" - it's a difficult one to answer honestly, only because people are so easily offended - so I'm going to take this opportunity to answer it here - honestly, in my own little space - We're from South Africa, and NO, I absolutely do not like it here ..... Normal posts will resume soon.

Take Care

Monday, December 8, 2014


For the past 3 years, our community has hosted a Christmas Bazaar. Last years was cancelled, as we were all iced in ...... we were having the worst ice storm North Texas had seen in many years.
Yesterday was lovely and mild though, and it was Christmas Bazaar Day !!!!
I'm going to be honest .... it was a little disappointing .... the turnout was not great, and the number of vendors was well down on the last one. There are 2 main factors that contributed to this I think ..... The tables were a little pricey (it is a community event after all), and the advertising of it was not great. Hopefully they take this information constructively, and rework it for next year.
I took a table with a friend of mine ....

I love how our little space looked ....
These are a few of the goodies I had for sale. The Snowman, Grinch and Santa all sold out :-)

Frosty the York Peppermint Patty Snowman ....

 You're a mean one, Mr Heath Bar Grinch, and his buddy Rolo Santa ...

Santa Cone - he was filled with a mini Twix, KitKat, Andes Mint and Holiday flavored Lollipop...
I found my inspiration HERE. I dont have the die for this, like was used in the original, but I fiddled around and drew it out, until I had the shape and process worked out.

Mini crackers, filled with 2 Hershey Miniatures...
These I saw HERE, and loved them. The envelope punch board, is one of my absolute favorite tools, I use it ALL the time :-)

I then made these candy baskets, and wrapped them up all nicely with cellophane and a bow ....
The little bow is made using the envelope punch board too.....HERE is a tutorial if you'd like to give it a try.

Then I had some fun with my scrapbooking supplies ....

These are just legal notepads (you buy 6 in a pack from Walmart for under $2). I wrapped scrapbook paper along the header and round the back. I adhered a piece of matching ribbon around the top. I decided to decorate the tops with little sculpey embellishments. I have some sculpey molds (strawberry, butterfly, owl, flowers, to name a few), so I molded a few of these. They're hard once they're baked, and I just glued them to the top, with strong glue. The topper will stay good all the way through, because the legal pads are perforated where you tear the sheets of paper off.
To finish the set off, I made some sculpey pens ...... This was a learning process for sure !!! I followed THIS TUTORIAL, but didn't pay close enough attention to the type of pens she used. My first attempt was made using those clear Bic pens .... oh no .... BIG mistake!!! I had a big melty mess !!! You need to use those white plastic pens (also Bic, but even cheaper).
I really like these sets ......

This turned out to be one of my favorites ..... this wreath form and stand, were about to be thrown out after an event at our Church, but a friend of mine saw it and rescued it for me, hoping that I could use it for something. It made the perfect gift tag display. I wound crepe paper around the form, made a big green bow, and there it was ...... my Christmas Tag display wreath.

So while it wasn't a fantastically successful Bazaar, I had so much fun creating my goodies. There were some new things I tried, which I'll definately use again.

Now onto the last few things I want to make for my own little family ...... fingers crossed I get it all done !!!!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


It's always a little bit of a challenge when it comes to deciding on  gifts for my In Laws. They're of the age now, where they prefer something useful as opposed to ornamental ....
This year I decided to make matching His and Hers gifts. Something that will hopefully help keep them snuggly and warm during the long, cold, wet, grey ........ English winter.

Good old fashioned hot water bottle covers .......
For me they bring back memories of boarding school. My brother, sister and I went to boarding school for most of our school careers. High School was spent in a little town, that got bitterly cold in winter. There was no heating, and electric heaters of any kind were an absolute no no, so we had to rely on hot water bottles to keep warm in winter.

I found THIS FREE PATTERN on Pinterest. It was quick and easy. The pattern didn't call for the ribbon tie around the neck of the bottle, however I felt the neck was too loose without it, and I like the decorative effect it gives. I used yarn that was a blend of acrylic and alpaca ...... in the process I learned that I'll have to strike  alpacas off my "Pets To Have" list .......... that yarn made my nose itch, until I thought I might loose it !!!!

I'm quite chuffed to have those gifts finished already ..... I popped them, together with all my other overseas gifts into the mail today .... Yes, they will all arrive in time for Christmas (today was the final day for mailing, where they'll guarantee delivery in time for Christmas :-)

I'm taking part in a Craft Market on Sunday, so I'm busy.... busy.... busy preparing for that. Once that's done, then I can start work on the last few local gifts I want to make .... Whew, it is certainly a busy season ....... I do make a concerted effort though, to stop at some point in every day, and remember the real reason we celebrate this season.

Wishing you and yours a beautiful, blessed Christmas season.

Sunday, November 30, 2014


.... and the first thing completed on my Christmas "To Do" list, are these Christmas cards, which will be on their way to my In Laws tomorrow.
I did 5 of each card.

When I went in search of goodies to use on the cards this year, I was really spoilt for choice ...... so many cute, ready made embellishments, at great prices. I got all of mine at Hobby Lobby, who seem to have had all of their Christmas craft goodies marked 50% off for weeks now. The trees, penguins, and snowflakes are all stickers. I did add the bling to the center of each snowflake for a little pizzazz !!!
All of the ideas were found on Pinterest ...... I'm a firm believer in not recreating the wheel, if I don't have too :-)

I have a few other Christmas gifts under way ....... Top Secret Stuff, you know !!!!

Ill be busy this week, preparing for our Community Craft Bazaar, which is next Sunday .... fingers crossed for this one :-)

Monday, November 17, 2014


This is a stray away from my usual crafty post, but this event was too special not to share with y'all.
While loading the washer this morning, I looked up and out the window to see this magnificent Red Shouldered Hawk sitting on the fence ...... the really special part, was that he had prey in his talons.
I sat mesmerized for the next 20 minutes, while I watched him devour this Blue Jay. He was pretty efficient, and nothing went to waste ..... It was pretty spectacular to witness.
I was really excited about the photos I managed to get (truth be told, I took about 45 photos in that short time ..... some were rubbish, but others I really love :-)

Sunday, November 16, 2014


That's what little boys are made of .... and it couldn't be more true in reference to Richard !!!
The not so little anymore, young man in our house turned 14 today !!! Wow, where has the time gone !!!!
It doesn't seem that long ago, that we were sleep deprived parents .... let me just add here, that he didn't sleep a night through for the first 5 years of his life !!!!
It doesn't seem that long ago, that we cheered his first little toddler steps (he was an early walker), and celebrated his first words (and a late talker). Or shed a few tears as we sent him off to school for the first time.

This sweet boy of ours has had his challenges, but this past year, has seen him grow into a young man, with such a sweet, kind heart. He has showed so much determination, and the will to work really hard, in order to achieve his goals. The good times have certainly far out weighed the difficult ones this year.

His choice of restaurant for dinner last night ...... Razzoo's (Cajun Cuisine). I swear this kiddo would be at his happiest on the bayou :-) He's our adventurous eater .... last year he wanted frogs legs, and this year he wanted Gator !!!

I have to say, it was delicious, and VERY tender. I think we'll go back there at some point .... it had such a fun, festive atmosphere, and the food was great.
Birthdays are never complete without a birthday cake ..... his request this year .... A Frog Cake, but it had to be in the shape of a frog, and not just have frogs stuck on it (I guess last years cake was a fail then :-p)Enter Pinterest, to gather some ideas .....

I made it half chocolate and half vanilla ....... Brittany hates vanilla cake, Andy hates chocolate cake, and he wanted to make sure that there was a little something for everyone. I made 2 cakepops for Mr Frogs eyes, and his legs, nose, mouth and spots were made of fondant. He's covered in buttercream icing (let's be honest, fondant tastes yukky !!!!). I added some chocolate rocks for the "pondy" effect. This cake was a declared perfect by the birthday boy himself !!!!

It was a great day ..... we even had our first snow fall this evening (can you believe it, in Texas) .... Richard declared it, his Birthday Miracle !!!

Happy Birthday Big Guy ........ You make us so proud to be your parents ..... Dont ever loose your sense of adventure .... We love you to the moon and back again :-)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

GNOMES .....

Well Hello .... Hello !!!
Yes, it has been a while hasn't it .... y'all know how it is. It's that time of year when days just pass by too quickly, and before you know it, you're nearly a month down the line.

Have your thoughts turned to Christmas decorating yet ....
My friend VAL, once again hosted her Annual Christmas Ornament Swap. This swap is always so much fun, and it's amazing to see just how creative people are. The theme this year was woodland/traditional .... Hmmm, interesting !!! Well, me being me, it was a no brainer ...... woodland it was going to be !!!!

I did get some help from Pinterest (I know, y'all are REALLY surprised to hear that :-) I found a few images that I thought were cute, took elements from each of those images, and created my gnomes :-)

I do love how they turned out ..... they look like 5 little grumpy gnomes all in a row, in this picture :-)
I went back to basics for these - nothing fancy - just felt, buttons, stuffing and my trusty needle ...... simple is always therapeutic.

So what are your decorating plans for Christmas 2014 !!!

Monday, October 13, 2014


I've had a lot of fun over the past week, decorating our mantle for Halloween.
My friend Val has a Zombie Patch that she puts out at Halloween, and I love it .... so .... I decided to create a patch for us this year too.
I have my zombie dolls ... each one, a precious work of art, created by some of the talented ladies in our swap group. I had a few pumpkins, but not nearly enough, and I didn't have a sign ..... Oh yes, I needed a sign !!!
It's been a busy week .... "growing" pumpkins !!!! Thanks to THIS AWESOME PUMPKIN TUTORIAL, it was easy and fun. I wanted fabrics that would let my pumpkins stay out past Halloween and into Thanksgiving, so the fabrics I used were autumnal, rather than Halloween. I plan on swapping out the Zombie Dolls for scarecrows and pilgrims, once Halloween is over.

So let me share my mantle with you .....

I covered the mantle with some scary fabric (the technical term Walmart use for it :-)

For my sign, I painted the wood white. I then stuck on stickers that spelled out "Zombie Patch", before painting over the white, with black. Once the black paint was dry, I peeled off the stickers. Some red paint, cheesecloth, modge podge, and a zombie head, and the sign was complete :-)
The Queen of Hearts, and poor Alice :-)

The White Rabbit, and his companions ....

Jack Skellington, and The Old Woman Who Lived In A Shoe ...... minus all of her children !!!!

I love that each pumpkin is so different, despite being made from the same pattern (I just changed the sizes of the pattern pieces). Some have felt leaves, while others have silk leaves. The stems are all made from rolled up felt, except for the stem on the daisy pumpkin - that one is made of Sculpey.

So how have you decorated your mantle .....

Friday, October 10, 2014


I survived the first week !!!!
Once I got the hang of the pattern, I was"A" for away :-) Ok, I'd be lying if I made it sound like I got it right away ..... I had to restart my first square .... uuhhmm ... FIVE times - Yes, you read that right !!!
However, once I found the "hidden" stitch, I was on my way .....

There you have them ..... All 6 !!!
I used yarn colors Lilac, Seafoam and Aqua for these 6 squares. To be 100% honest with you, I'm not so sure anymore, that I like the colors .... But, that being said, I have the yarn, so I'm going to soldier on, and use the colors I chose to make the blanket ..... Hopefully as the weeks progress, and I add more colors, I'll like them more.
I love the design of this first square though .... I think it's really pretty :-)
Week 2's pattern was released today ...... Ummm ...... I'm thinking It may take more than five attempts to get this one right !!! I'm determined to get it right though ...... that was one of the main reasons I decided to take part in this CAL, to stretch myself and learn new stitches and techniques ...... Popcorn Stitch anyone ?

Thursday, October 2, 2014


I've never done one of these before ..... A Crochet Along !!! I've read about them, I've seen the gorgeous results of them, I've considered doing them .... but I've never actually taken the plunge.
Until now that is ..... While on Facebook a couple of weeks back I found THIS CAL LINK, so I decided to take a closer look. Wink from A Creative Being is hosting it. I loved the idea of a new pattern every week, with the promise of a new blanket completed just in time for Christmas ..... Cold, hopefully snowy days (who an I kidding - this is Texas after all), spent snuggling under a new handmade blanket - what's not to like :-) How exciting that we'll have no idea what this beauty will look like until the end ..... oh the anticipation !!!
So, I signed up !!!!

The first pattern will be released tomorrow, ON HER BLOG. She partnered with a Dutch wool company called Scheepejswool, who put together two different kits for the CAL. The response has been overwhelming, and the company ran out of kits. The wool looks beautiful, but honestly it doesn't fit into my budget, so I decided to pick out a reasonably priced acrylic yarn, in colors I love, and I'm crocheting along using them.

Aren't those colors so pretty ... Brittany told me they remind her of Easter (that wasn't my intention). I like them more for the shabby chicish look, I may (or may not) get.
I'm using Yarn Bee's Soft Secret yarn. It's soft and cuddly, with just the right amount of shine.
The colors I've chosen are (from top left, to bottom right) :
Seafoam, Olive, Butter
Lilac, Rosey, White, Fog
Soft Pink, Aqua, Smoke
Pink, Hot Turquoise

I'm looking forward to it, although strangely, I'm a little nervous (What if I don't know how to do some part of it???)
My plan is too post about each weeks pattern, a day or so before the next weeks pattern is to be released ..... I'm hoping this keeps me accountable, so that I wont fall behind.

Perhaps you want to CAL too ... it's not too late .... tomorrow is D Day (or C Day ... that probably sounds better :-)

Monday, September 29, 2014


I had honestly never heard of these ...... not even in stories that my Granny told. So when I came upon THIS PASTRY CLOTH TUTORIAL on Pinterest, I was intrigued.

I decided I needed one ..... hands up, if you hate those little sticky bits of pastry and cookie dough you find stuck to your counter top, no matter how much you flour the surface before rolling it !!!!
Let me tell you, this little ( or not so little, as mine turned out to be) beauty has revolutionized cookie baking for me .... it's genius !!!

Check out the tutorial link - the blogger lists all of the reasons you need one, and here's another reason - I'm telling you they work ... they work .... they work .... like a bomb.
They're dead easy to make too. You do need to use the type of fabric she recommends (although in my research, it seems that painters drop cloth would work too). I got my fabric at Joann's. It was $6-99 a yard, but I used a 40% off coupon, so it made it reasonable. At Joann's this fabric is kept where you find all of the utility fabrics .... yes, I walked around looking for quite a while !!!!

One of the two sides of the fabric is kept plain (this is the side you roll on), while the other side I decorated ... just to pretty it up.
As per the tutorial instructions, I painted some stripes with fabric paint. I decided to take mine a step further ....... my mason jar rubber stamp .... love it !!!! I used special ink for fabric (Hobby Lobby keeps it), With some alphabet stamps, I then named the jars ..... Cute :-)

See, mine is quite large. I think I bought 2 yards, or perhaps 3 yards, cut it in half, and that was my fabric depth, while the length was the width of the fabric. TAKE NOTE ... dont skip pre washing your fabric .... this stuff shrinks like no other !!!!

When you're ready to roll out your dough, dust your pastry cloth with flour, and get rolling ....

Look how beautifully the dough lifts from the cloth .... it makes cookie cutting a breeze !!!!

Your pastry cloth does not need washing every time you use it. - in fact some articles stated that these cloths were never washed back in the day. Once you're finished, dust off the flour, and roll it up. These articles, suggested that the best place to keep your cloth, when it's not in use, is in the freezer, so that's where mine is ... rolled up in my freezer. Something to do with the residual oils and fats.

I thought one of these would make a lovely gift for the cookie or pie baker in your life. Wrap it together with a few cookie cutters, or a spatula or two .... and there you have it :-)

Thought I'd end off, by showing you the finished cookies ..... it's time to play around with some Halloween cookie ideas ..... Doing the Monster Mash !!!!