Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Christmas Eve in Virginia

 Well it is finally here, Christmas eve. I must admit it really snuck up on me this year. I decided that I was not going to get so involved in goliath baking marathons as in the past. This was going to be my year to really relax and enjoy the season. I must say it worked out quite well so far.  Instead of baking twelve different kinds of cookies and assorted candies, I decided on my cream cheese pound cakes and my vintage Chunky candy recipe. Wow...why was I driving myself crazy all those years. Trying to do way too much and not enjoying any of it. My stress level was very low this season. As an example, the top strand of lights on my tree went dark this year. Now normally that would totally freak me out and I would have to undo the whole tree and replace the lights and re hang everything. Not this year.....I got a step ladder, grabbed the lower lights, yanked them up to the top and said "fixed". Looks fine to me! Sometimes you just have to let go of perfection and embrace real life, warts and all.
 This evening my family in New York will be gathering at my brother Ricky's house for the anual Christmas Eve party. I really miss being able to be there. It has always been too far to travel. The few I have made it too were great..noisy, fun, good food and great people. Maybe when Metz retires we will be close enough to go. Until then photos of everyone having fun will have to suffice.
 I am expecting my guys home tonight. I can't wait to see them, they always make me laugh. We have never had a bad Christmas yet and I am sure this year will be wonderful as well. It has changed since they have grown....they used to get us up at 4 am and now they sleep in until 10am.  No more running down the stairs, now they run to the coffee pot. Paper would fly every where, now they slowly open each package with care. Very funny.
 Well I must close now, but I would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a very healthy and Happy New Year. Please keep in touch and come visit my blog whenever you can. I look forward to hearing from you. 

Friday, December 19, 2008

First Felted Miniatures

Hello everyone, I have been playing around with my felting needles today and have taken some photos of the results...you be the judge. It is very time consuming, but very therapeutic...what with all that jabbing with the very sharp needle.If you pretend you are jabbing at someone you are upset with, it goes quite quickly :) I really like my little sheep, with her little sprig of holly behind her ear.
 The weather was dreadful today, cold and rainy. I broke my last felting needle, went to my favorite yarn shop for a new one, of course they were out of felting needles. You know that since I was there already, I HAD to look around. Went in looking for one felting needle and left with a stash of yarn. THEY GET ME EVERY TIME!!! I must admit, most of it was 50% off. 
Then I had to drive in the poring rain to Hunt Country Yarns, in The Plains,Va. YES....they had needles and yes you guessed it I left with the needles and more yarn. DARN...THEY GOT ME AGAIN! I think I need a twelve step program for my addiction.
 I talked to my family in New York today and they were having a snow storm, I was sooooo jealous. I love snow, but then I do not have to drive in it. My husband commutes and he hates it in the snow. I made my snowman to make up for the fact we have no snow here in Virginia.
 Well I probably will spend the weekend baking for the holidays. I usually make enough cookies every Christmas to feed a small army. I am soooo behind this year. Every year I try to cut back and relax more during the holidays, but never do. Maybe this is the year I scale back my cookie production. We'll see how the weekend goes, I will let you know monday. I will be whipping up some wonderful cream cheese pound cakes with dried cranberries and mini chocolate chips. So good with a cup of coffee or tea. I have posted the recipe for anyone who would like to try it. It is yummy and so versatile. You can add pretty much anything you want to it. Any kind of dried fruit, nuts or chips work well. I make them in mini loaf pans and give them as gifts with small bags of coffee and assorted tea bags.
 Well enjoy my new photos and I hope you try the pound cake. Remember to take time to enjoy the season and if the weather permits...build a snowman for me.

 *****CREAM CHEESE POUND CAKE*****
1 1/2 CUPS BUTTER(NO SUBSTITUTES)ROOM TEMP
1 PACKAGE CREAM CHEESE ROOM TEMP
2 1/3 CUPS SUGAR
6 EGGS ROOM TEMP
3 CUPS ALL PURPOSE FLOUR
T TSP REAL VANILLA EXTRACT
In large bowl, cream butter and cream cheese. Gradually add sugar, beating until fluffy, about 5-7 min. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Gradually add flour, just until blended. Stir in vanilla. Stir in nuts or other add-ins at this point. Pour into mini pans or 10in. tube pan. Bake at 300 degrees for about 1 1/2 hours or until cake test done. Cool 15 min. before removing from pan. Cool completely     

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Holiday Cookie Swap



 Well,I am home from Poughkeepsie,New York, where I attended a holiday cookie swap. If you have never been part of a swap, but love cookies, you should try to organize one with your friends next Christmas. It is a very cool idea. You bake a certain amount of one particular cookie, the amount depends on how many people participate. Then when you arrive, all the cookies are placed on a table. If the swap is done properly, you will enjoy a few glasses of wine before you start the swapping. That's how I think it should be done :)
 Everyone goes around the table and takes a few of each kind of cookie to take home. If after the first round cookies still remain, you go around again. Of course you are nibbling as you go, that's a given. So in the end you bring one kind of cookie and go home with lots of different kinds. Very cool!
 Of course I also used the gathering to hand out my business cards and to talk about Etsy and my etsy shop 'theemptynest.etsy.com' Hey...it's all about networking!
 While in New York I played Santa and left most of my gifts for my family. Beats postage on packages..I get to deliver gifts and visit family. The ol' two birds with one stone thing.
 I drove 6 1/2 hours by myself..well not really, I had Michael Buble and Regina Spektor to keep me company. Turn up the volume and sing along all the way to New York, yeah baby!!
 On the way home I took the opportunity to stop at all the cute antique shops my sweet husband never wants to stop at. Point of Rocks, Md. and Lucketts, Va have some great ones. I had fun browsing and found some very cute treasures. Check the photos above to see my finds. My oldest son does fabulous card tricks, so when I saw this great tie tack I had to buy it. The Carolina Wren that adorns the beautiful wooden cross is my favorite bird. I love finding treasures . Well until next time..take time to enjoy the holiday season, slow down and observe all the beauty around you.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Well, if I was not doing the typing I would never have believed it. I am actually blogging! Easy so far..now what, I guess I have to say something to keep you interested. OMG...what have I gotten myself into. What makes me think anything I have to say would be remotely interesting to others? Then again, I do read other blogs and their lives are not much more exciting than mine. This could be a very cool thing I am about to begin. Well to start I am the oldest girl out of a family of eleven, yup you heard right, eleven. God bless my mom. I will never know how she did it all and stayed so sane and healthy. She is 82 and going strong..love you mom!
 I am the woman behind the little design shop called The Empty Nest. I work everyday out my cozy home studio. I have all the comforts of home in there with me. I have a great big desk top for sewing and painting, many shelves of fabulous fabric, lot's of paint, a televison and an Ipod loaded with great music. My husband says all I need is a litter box and refridgerator and I would never have to come out.
 I am hoping to use this blog to share some of the every day beauty and creativeness I encounter in my daily meanderings. I am in awe of all the creative people handcrafting fabulous treasures. I will be posting photos of my finds and maybe sharing some how-to's. Their will definitely be some recipe sharing and other cool stuff. So please visit often and have a cup of coffee or tea with me. If you time it right, you might catch me taking a fresh batch of my wonderful scones out of the oven. Hope to see you soon.