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.