31 Dec 2011

Christmas decor for New Years?

Yep, I'm writing a post about our Christmas decorations on New Year's Eve.  I figure that they're still up so why not, right?  Maybe, hopefully, I'll get it all together next year and blog about it earlier.  I'm not sure that's possible, the getting it together part, I mean.  I don't think I'll ever get it all together, but that's what makes life more interesting. :)

You may remember our turquoise Christmas exterior from this post.  Our decorating with turquoise continued inside as well, but we added in the more traditional red.  

Well, here is a pic of our mantle and tree which you may have seen snippets of already of here, here and here.  

This wreath was originally made from cedar branches, but they dried out before Christmas and I had to redo it using some branches that were left over from the Christmas tree.  The mercury glass ornaments were picked up from a yard sale last summer.

These were our stockings.  Mummu knit them from a pattern from Handknit Holidays.  There's a tree skirt pattern as well that I would like to knit or have knit for me (hint, hint) one year. :)  I put these letter ornaments (scored from Superstore) on the stockings with our initials, but, unfortunately, they didn't have the 'n' for Nalle.  I am going to try and hunt one down somehow or have to come up with some DIY version for next year.

For the dining room, I already showed the table in yesterday's post so I thought I'd just show our hanging pinecones.

Here is another picture and a glimpse of our kitchen window that got one lonely pinecone.  I had an extra one and had to use it somewhere. :)

Lastly, I'll show our entertainment built-in area of the living room.  I finally cleaned off those shelves and attempted styling them a bit.

We put up some of our favourite Christmas decorations and Finnish glass pieces.  There are also a few hits of blue/turquoise via the painting, bowl and books.  Pretty well everything on the shelves we already owned. I did pick up the turquoise bowl at Goodwill to hold our keys.  This is right in step with our New Year's resolution to finally finish unpacking and get rid of any excess stuff and simplify.  Stay tuned for our basement plans.  Tech Guy and I have been busy drawing plans on Floorplanner.

So those were the majority of our Christmas decorations.  I hope you liked it! :)  You can check out Little Pilot's Christmas decor here and here (if your interested or missed it).

We wish you a very happy and blessed New Year 2012!

Tech Guy, Anu, Little Pilot and Nalle

30 Dec 2011

our Christmas Eve

We had a wonderful Christmas at Nalle's House.  Both Tech Guy and I grew up celebrating Christmas the Finnish way on Christmas Eve.  We wanted to continue this tradition with our family at our own house.  I always had the best Christmases as a child when I celebrated them at my own home.  We had a few guests for Christmas as well:  Mummu, Pappa and my cousin from Finland.  

Our night started with dinner.  We have really found a menu that everyone loves and have stuck to it for a few years now.  We had rolled turkey breast with fennel herb stuffing, cranberry, grapefruit and cherry chutney, butternut squash crumble, green beans with fried shiitake mushrooms, date and walnut salad and cheddar biscuits with sage.  Our table setting was super simple.  We brought out all the vintage Iittala glass that looked like ice from both Mummu's and my collection.  I also dressed the table with some Marimekko lumimarja table runners that I stitched up a couple of Christmases ago and some evergreen branches.

Little Pilot got to sit at the head of the table, but of course!

After dinner we read the Christmas story from the Bible in English as no one was brave enough to tackle the Finn version as well.  We'll make it a goal to read both languages next year though. :)
Right after our Christmas story we started opening gifts with Little Pilot.  We started early so that he would have enough energy to open the gifts before it got too late and time for bed.  Here's a look at our tree with all the gifts underneath (most of them for Little Pilot :) ).

I think Little Pilot really surprised us all with his gift opening skills.  Here's a little sequence of him opening up one of his presents (please don't mind that some of the pics are with flash and some are without).
I love that he got right into it: crawling over the box and tearing at the paper!  In the last pic Little Pilot is re-sticking the name tag to the box after he got it open.  I think the wrapping and all that sticky tape was just as fun as the gifts inside. :)

Don't get me wrong.  Little Pilot loved the toys he received.  He actually helped drag this one out of the closet (Little Pilot had noticed our little hiding place before, but luckily can't reach door handles yet).  He opened it first.
It's one of those wooden toy cubes with lots of different things to do (beads, doors, etc).

He also got this rocking horse motorcycle that we picked up at a yard sale in the summer.  Tech Guy worked hard to fix it up in time for Christmas.

After the gifts were mostly opened (Little Pilot didn't have the energy to open all those gifts at once), we had our coffee and dessert.  I, in present-opening overload, completely forgot to take pictures of the cake.  I made this candy cane white chocolate cheesecake (slightly modified).  My cousin is a big fan of cheesecake and she thought (as did I) that this one was delish!  

We also had an assortment of cookies:  sugar cookies (posted about here), ginger chocolate cookies, joulu torttuja (my grandma's recipe, I think) and 's' cookies (my great grandmother's recipe and 's' just happens to be Little Pilot's first initial).  So a nice assortment of Finnish and American cookies.

That was it for our dessert aside from the obligatory Finnish Fazer chocolate.

I can't believe how much Christmas changes when you have a little one.  I think your heart is already bursting from just being a mom and when you see how excited and happy Little Pilot was on Christmas your filled beyond measure.  I am so glad that we can share the true meaning of Christmas with our son and celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.  I pray that Little Pilot you will continue to learn how much Jesus loves you!

29 Dec 2011

a baby proof fireplace for the holidays

A while ago we were running into a small problem with our fireplace (a non-functioning wood-burning one).  Little Pilot was finding the screen and log set that the previous owners left behind far too interesting.

I was getting a little tired of prying him off of the fire screen and worrying that he would pull it down on himself.  The hearth was also getting scratched from the brass legs being dragged across it (about a hundred times every hour!).

So it was high time that we did something about it.  I didn't have anything really planned for the firebox other than to remove the screen and logs.  We also gave it a good vacuuming and cleaning.  Little Pilot was right there with me.  That little guy sure loves the vacuum (even though his face looks otherwise in this pic)!

His hair even got all mussed up from all that cleaning.  I wonder if his mommy accidentally vacuumed it?  No, I couldn't have done that!  Must be some wicked bedhead. :)

We actually left our fireplace wide open for awhile and it did lose its appeal for Little Pilot.  SUCCESS!  In the meantime, I was looking at some options for what to do with it.  I was liking the idea of placing logs in it like this:
 via pinterest

 or this fun chalkboard idea:

But, alas, this was another project on the back burner.  Why do I seem to have an unending list of projects?

For Christmastime we really wanted to have something in the fireplace.  Upgrading to a gas fireplace was not a gift to ourselves that we had budgeted for so we came up with the idea of using twinkle lights.  They seemed the best and safest way to add some light to that empty hole of a fireplace.  We originally thought we would go out and get some lanterns and put the lights in them.  Something like this:

 We ended up running out of time before we got around to actually buying the lanterns before Christmas.  So, on Christmas Eve, we pulled out, from the garage, the log set that had lived in our fireplace before.  We decided to wrap the lights around the logs.  Of course, Little Pilot was there to help.  That's our little DIYer! :)

Here is a close-up of how the lights looked:

Here's the whole mantle set up:

I think it looks much better than that empty black hole.  And as for, Little Pilot?  He has left it alone for the most part, but we can't seem to get him away from pulling any and all cords out of the socket!  Not to self:  must look into how to baby proof cords.  

27 Dec 2011

Christmas pjs

We have had a great Christmas holiday so far.  I thought I would post a couple of pics of Little Pilot and Nalle in their Christmas pjs.  Little Pilot is sporting a sleeper with snowflakes and snowmen and Nalle is outfitted in his winter white fur sans collar.  No itchy collar for Nalle at night. :)

Isn't Nalle the best dog ever for Little Pilot?  He is very gentle with him.  He doesn't move at all if Little Pilot is holding onto him/climbing on him (like in these pics).  Good boy, Nalle.  I love you.

Here's also a sneak peek of all the fun we had on Christmas.  This may have been the most fun part of our Christmas Eve.  Let's just say that Little Pilot "dove right in". :)

Hopefully, I'll be able to come back with some more details of our Christmas soon.  I hope y'all had a very blessed Christmas.  I know we did!

23 Dec 2011

Santa Cries

We hit up another Christmas must:  Santa Claus and it went exactly how we anticipated.  Little Pilot was very excited to see Santa/all the decorations/kids from a distance, but when he sat on Santa's knee this is what happened:
Don't mind the poor pic quality.  It was taken with our phone.  

The photographer also took a few pics and this is the best that we got:

Still crying, but we love it.  Don't worry too much though, the trauma was short-lived.  The tears stopped as soon as Little Pilot was in my arms again.  He also got his first taste of a candy cane and loved it.  So not all was bad for Little Pilot.  I wonder if Little Pilot's reaction had partly to do with the fact that Santa's not, at all, a big deal at our house.  We tend to focus on the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus.  Now nativity scenes and baby Jesus, Little Pilot has no issues with. :)

It will be fun to look back at these photos in Christmases to come and see how Little Pilot's reaction changes (at least I hope it will).  I think I am just as pleased with the picture we got (maybe even more so!) than with one where he would be smiling perfectly.  It will allow us to remember how he was.  I love you Little Pilot.  Merry Christmas!

20 Dec 2011

O Christmas tree

We decided to start a new Nalle's House family tradition this year.  We went to a genuine Christmas tree farm to get our tree.  We always get a real Christmas tree, but not always from a farm so this was something new for all of us.  We figured Little Pilot was old enough this year to enjoy going to the farm. 

Here is Little Pilot with his daddy checking out the place.  It was a really cute farm with the little red shed and it had snowed just enough to look Christmasy.  I really like this pic.  It was an impromptu attempt a portrait from the back.  I think it turned out pretty well. 

When we first got to the farm we were offered a tractor ride even though we decided that we would just get a pre-cut tree.  I think we'll definitely cut our own in years to come as Little Pilot gets older.  We didn't get very good pictures of the ride because Little Pilot was just a little scared. 

This picture is after the ride was over.  I was trying to put him down to sit on his own, but he wouldn't have any of it!  He was equally petrified as fascinated throughout the ride(so much so that he just quietly clung to his mommy for dear life!).  I didn't mind.  I got some extra cuddles. :)

The farm thought of some nice family fun details like a fire with marshmallows to roast and some hot chocolate and hot apple cider.  We had one of each.  Let me clarify, we didn't pig out on the freebies.  Tech guy had one apple cider and I had one hot chocolate.

Here's a picture of Little Pilot at the farm while his daddy was picking out our tree with the very helpful tree farm guy.  I think he was pointing to a dog.

When we were all done we loaded up our tree (a Balsam Fir) and Little Pilot into our station wagon.  I think Little Pilot liked his new seat mate. :)
Next year we will have to get a roof rack so that Nalle can come too!

Little Pilot had a lot of fun helping his daddy set up the tree at our house.  He investigated every part.  I think he might be ready to do it all by himself next year!  Maybe he'll still need daddy's help just a little. :)

I think the most fun Little Pilot had was with the needles that were scattered from our front door to the living room.  He is really into cleaning lately.  He loves vacuuming, sweeping, wiping, etc.  Here he is with his best "I'm too little to be doing chores" face.

He also loved messing up the neatly swept up piles of needles just as much as cleaning them.

Now for our taste-tester:

Aw YUCK!  Those aren't Mommy's cookies!

And then, this happened:
No, he didn't pass out.  This is something else that Little Pilot is experimenting with lately:  laying down on the floor (maybe he's getting a new angle on life?).  The bright sunshine got him this time.

Here's our tree decorated, sort of:

I say, sort of, because the bottom part of the tree is without decorations.  We have gingerbread hearts hung from red ribbons for ornaments and Little Pilot loves to take them off and nibble a bit.  I think there are a 1/2 dozen hearts with bites out of them. :)  So most of the cookies are hung out of his reach.  He has actually gotten so used to us moving the ornaments out of his reach that if he finds one at his level he gives it to me and says, "up" (wanting me to hang it higher).  We also added more of that turquoise ribbon to the tree to tie in the rest of our decorating.  

That was our Christmas tree adventure and our baby safe decorations.  I hope you liked it!

19 Dec 2011

Christmas cookies

We've been busy getting ready for Christmas and in the meantime have been checking off items from our winter fun list.  Today's fun was sugar cookies.  This one turned out to be super duper fun for Little Pilot, Mummu and I.  Mummu was over to help us with our cookie baking and Little Pilot was into it 100%.  I made the dough while he was taking a nap and when he woke up we got right to work.

Little Pilot took his cookie making quite seriously for the most part.  We started with rolling out the dough making sure that both hands were on the rolling pin handles. Just look at that concentration! :)

Some more intense rolling.

Then we moved onto the cookie cutter pressing.  You can see Little Pilot use his pipes in this one.  You can also see the effort written allover his face (man, this cookie making is hard work!). :) 

Yay!  Success!!! (the first smile he cracked).  I'm telling you, It was pretty serious work for this little guy!
That's Mummu's shoulder in the above pic.  She was a little camera shy, but her help was much appreciated! :)  

We used three different snowflake cookie cutters.  Here are some picks of the medium sized ones (just in case anyone might be interested in what we made).  

I tried a sour cream sugar cookie recipe this year and they turned out okay, but I may just go back to my tried and true sugar cookies of previous years.  I also changed up my icing a bit this year by adding some cream cheese and really did like it.  The icing is a keeper for sure.  Now I will just have to remember what I did. :)
Here are the cookies iced.

And for our taste-testing finale...

 Again, sooo serious!  Oh, I love you Little Pilot and I love that you have flour allover your sweater!  I'm looking forward to all the fun messes we'll make together as you grow (kinda, sorta).

14 Dec 2011

After Eight peppermint brownies

Tech Guy bought a big package of After Eight chocolates at Costco the other day and it reminded me of a very yummy brownie recipe.  It's from Chocolate American Style by Lora Brody.  These are peppermint brownies with After Eight chocolate in them (I have made them using York peppermint patties as well).  I think it was a good thing that we had a giant package of the chocolates otherwise Tech Guy probably would have devoured them all before any actually got into the brownies. So if you have a chocoholic at your house (we may have just a couple at ours) make sure you get an extra box/bag or two at least! :)  

Peppermint Brownies:
adapted from Chocolate American Style

4oz unsweetened chocolate
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
3 extra large eggs
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp peppermint extract
approx. 20 After Eight/York peppermint patty chocolates

Preheat oven to 325 F.  Butter an 8" square pan and line with parchment paper overlapping it on two opposite sides.  Butter parchment.  

Melt chocolate and butter together in a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water.  Set aside.  Sift together dry ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Put eggs and sugar in the bowl of your mixer/medium bowl and mix at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy.  Turn your mixer speed to low and add in vanilla and peppermint extracts.  Add in the melted chocolate mixture and mix well.  Add in the dry ingredients and mix until just blended.

Pour half of your batter into the prepared pan.  Layer chocolates evenly on top.  Carefully pour remaining batter on top of the chocolates so as not to disturb them.  Make sure you cover the chocolates otherwise the they will make a gooey mess all over the top of your brownies and you won't get that nice minty layer.

Bake the brownies for 30-35 minutes.  You want moist crumbs on your cake tester.

Let the brownies cool completely in pan and use parchment to lift them out.  Cut into 16 squares.

Now you will have the perfect minty, fudgy treat!

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