Throwback | diy holidays

Christmas sled

We found this vintage sled in the garage when we moved in – I knew it would be a perfect to add a little holiday spirit to our porch!

This holiday season has varied a little from our norm…

Usually, we’d be knee-deep in greenery and cookie baking by this time in December. But, this year, we have no place to put a Christmas tree yet because apparently it’s not super simple to renovate a 145-year-old kitchen, or something. And, obviously, cooking is hard when your new oven is still shrink-wrapped in the garage. So, my living room still looks like the pic below, but, with some help from my awesome mom who has been visiting (who, side-note, will paint your kitchen cabinets until 6am for you, and do your laundry…) at least the outside of the house is looking festive!

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

The filter makes this pic look way more serene than it feels irl… But, the end of our sea of boxes is near!

Things are different, BUT, I’ve found comfort in some old and new traditions – some of which I’ve shared on FreshlyMinted in the past! And, a white-and-grey-and-butcher block-and-harringbone – and subway tile- rustic farmhouse kitchen is now totally within sight… so I can be patient a little longer ;)

In the meantime, here are a few of my favorite throwback holiday posts and projects:

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Handmade Holiday | Rustic Boxwood Garland & Mini Wreaths, Newsprint Tree, Perfect Christmas Bow and Popcorn garland (I used holly for my garland this year – much more prickly, but just as lovely!)

Salt Dough | Gift Tags & Ornaments 

Secret Holiday Treats | Aunt J’s Top Secret Chocolate Mint Cookie Recipe

A Cookie-Swappers Daydream | Salted Mudslide Cookie Recipe

Enjoy!

Advertisements

Spicy-Sweet Roasted {Pumpkin Seeds}

To be honest, I’ve never had much success with roasting pumpkin seeds…

Unless, of course, by “roasting” you mean creating a clump of gunk charred beyond all recognition, or some soggy things that get stuck in your teeth and are a little slimy. If that’s the case, I usually nail it.

BUT, this time, my seeds were a resounding success. They tasted awesome, had the perfect *crunch*, a delightful honey-smokiness, and a pretty caramelized color…

Almost as beautiful as the Husband’s “Avenger” pumpkin.

So, grab up those discount-pumpkins, scoop ’em out, and enjoy these awesome little treats! Perfect for get-togethers, on salads, or a before-dinner snack…

Spicy-Sweet Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Makes about 1 cup

Ingredients

  • Pumpkin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 1 pinch cinnamon
  • 1 pinch cumin
  • 1 pinch cayenne
  • 1 pinch chili powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons honey

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove seeds from pumpkin. Discard membranes and spread seeds on baking sheet. Bake for about 10-15 minutes – this will make them nice and crisp!
  • Remove from oven. Toss seeds with olive oil, honey and spices to taste – don’t be afraid to be liberal with them. The more flavor the better…
  • Return to oven and roast coated seeds until golden, about another 10-15 minutes. Watch very closely to prevent burning, and stir several times during cooking. Let cool, and enjoy! Keep in an airtight container, and much on ’em for over a week.

P.S. The Husband makes a pretty cute Gondolier, no?

…now if I could only get him to STOP singing “‘O Sole Meio”…

{festivities}

It’s only just begun…

It’s okay. Go ahead and sing the Carpenters’ song in your head.

I won’t judge.

We’ve been busy getting into the holiday spirit: Our tree, my parent’s tree and our annual “Thank God it’s Christmas” party with friends! I LOVE the Holidays (read: pretty much crazy/obsessed/drive-The-Husband-nuts-with-non-stop-christmas-music). So, I am totally in hog heaven right now.

{Best Christmas Tree impression}

We went to Kaleidoscope Farms to cut down our tree – our third “married” Christmas tree! They have a lovely little shop, a donkey, a reindeer, and absolutely beautiful trees…

{Hot Cider – Yum!}

It’s a tradition to go out to a fun dinner before we set the tree up. This year, we went to Alexandria’s (remember this concert?) for cocktails and appetizers, and then headed over to Revolver (Yum) for dinner and dessert.

It was divine.

After that, we trimmed the tree, drank “egg” nog (really soy nog… surprisingly tasty!) and listened to music… perfection.

The next day, we ran errands, strung lights outside, cooked, cleaned and headed over to Andy and Sara’s house for the Annual Thank God It’s Christmas party with our friends!

{Brussels sprouts with maple, cranberry and sliced almonds and roasted squash & harvest grains were my contributions. So much good food!}

Everyone brought delicious food and fun drinks, and we laughed, talked and ate until late that night. We also worked with Halley on her Christmas card project – she is sending cards to soldiers overseas and in VA hospitals. This is her second year of the tradition – such a worthy cause. It’s a great feeling to give back during the holidays. Learn more on Halley’s blog.

{Bottom right: Zane (14), Dad, Me, The Husband, Joe (21), Bekah (9)}

The Christmas-themed marathon didn’t stop there: on Sunday we headed over to my parents to get their tree with my siblings! Mom, Dad, Bekah, Zane, Joe, The Husband and I packed ourselves into the car for our annual trek to Timbuk Tree Farm.

We ALWAYS ride the bus, and we ALWAYS go to Granville for dinner and ice cream afterwards. We started these traditions with my great-grandparents years and years ago.

We ate at Brew’s Cafe (portobella mushroom sandwich with sweet potato fries) and then went to Whit’s Custard (PB Whister) for dessert. Everything was. to. die. for.

We trimmed the tree when we got home (it was MY year to put the star on top!) and drank egg nog… only UDF brand will do in that household (it is sinfully delicious).

{Whew! Yes, that did take as long as it looks. But I got the job done. Eventually. Let’s just say that there were some picky bystanders.}

It was a wonderful kickoff to the Christmas season, and we’ve got so much more to look forward to! Potluck at the office, Ugly Christmas Sweater Party, The Husband’s huge office party,  The Nutcracker, a cookie exchange, Office Christmas lunch downtown, family celebrations and lots of traveling… can’t wait!

What do you have in store in the weeks leading up to Christmas?

Uncle Glenn’s {Cheesy} Potato Soup

Sometimes, it is better just NOT to know what is in your favorite dishes.

But, there’s a problem with that. If you never get the recipe, you’ll never be able to enjoy that cake, pick apart those little creamy-bacony-puff appetizer things, scoop up mom’s gooey dip, or…. savor Uncle Glenn’s Potato Soup.

So, continue if you dare. A staple at our family gatherings, this cheesy, rich goodness is so worth it… especially if you need to whip up something for a crowd after a day of sledding. Or intense game playing/movie watching/shopping/present wrapping…

{My Uncle Glenn, my sister, my dad and Lulu the puppy – Too. Cute.}

Uncle Glenn’s Cheesy Potato Soup

Serves 6 (double for a crowd!)

Ingredients

  • 1 Two lb. bag of cubed frozen hash browns (you can use fresh potatoes too, but hey – we’ve got a bunch of hungry cousins on our hands. Can’t dawdle).
  • 1 Jar Cheese spread (Yep. That’s Cheez Wiz. Don’t hate.)
  • 1 Qt. Heavy Whipping Cream, room temperature (You’ve already done the Cheez Wiz…why stop now?!)
  • 3 Chicken boullion cubes
  • 1 1/2 Cups Chopped Carrots and Celery (See – vegetables! This is practically a health food… Food chopper/processor is the easiest).

Directions:

  • Place potatoes and bullion cubes in a stock pot. Add water just to cover, cook on medium-high heat.
  • When potatoes are soft (poke with a fork), add cheese, carrots and celery. Stir until cheese is completely melted.
  • Slowly add heavy whipping cream, continue stirring.
  • Reduce heat to low, stir frequently.
  • Simmer for about 15 minutes until warm through, and well combined.
  • (Note: To thicken, add instant potato flakes!)

This rich, creamy, fast soup is best paired with crackers, bread, bacon bits, and enough green leafy things to make you feel better about yourself… or (Uncle’s recommendation) deer salami. That part is totally optional.

Be brave. You’ll be the hero of family tales for years to come.

Enjoy!

Do you have any indulgent, quirky, fun, family-gathering favorites that you are looking forward to this season?

Labor & Birth {Days}

I. Love. Surprises.

As evidenced by the photo to the left, even when wearing serious cowgirl garb, I can barely contain my excitement (that’s a swing set in the trunk by the way. I loved that thing…Until I realized that wasps built nests in the glider, and then I steered clear of the thing for months). I think the bolo tie made the outfit, don’t you?

Birthday excitement then…

When my Birthday dawned yesterday, it wasn’t much different. Even though I’m 25, not 4, and had to go to work, I was beyond happy to be greeted with THREE b-day surprises, including flowers from the Husband, and chocolate from the Parents. But, what excited me most of all was the prospect of dinner at my favorite restaurant in the universe: Revolver.

…Birthday excitement now

I adore Revolver’s seasonal, local, fresh, amazing food… and their retro-funk decor is a total treat. Chatting with the staff is fun, and the wine list is to die for. In short, this place is a gem, and I LOVE that it is nestled in our little city in Northwest Ohio.

We dined on poutine with duck fat french fries, braised goat and aged cheddar (not so healthy, but oh, so amazing), sweet corn bisque with vanilla mascarpone (the vanilla was intense!), pekin duck breast with roasted sweet corn, spicy pickled cucumbers and avocado, and local pork loin with fennel gratin and watercress. And, I can’t forget, polenta… I rarely DREAM of food, but Chef Mike’s polenta is simple, rich and heavenly.

For dessert, we got both the rich chocolate brownie with homemade raspberry reduction and ice cream, and the summer fruit trifle (served in a glass jar!) with fresh whipped cream and buttery pound cake and a cup of French press coffee (hey, it’s my Birthday…I can’t eat two desserts if I want.)… *sigh*. Perfection.

This day of bliss actually followed a pretty amazing Labor Day weekend. Even though it was packed, we had a ton of fun with friends and family at our annual Labor Day Family Camp (where the Husband and I first hung out eight years ago!), enjoyed great friends at a wedding, and even got to hang out along the Ohio River and take a spin on a Jet Ski!

The wedding was so lovely, and we are ecstatic for our friends Pat & Emily (they’re going on their honeymoon to New Zealand and Australia – how cool is that?). We stayed with our friends Sarah, Andy, Karen, Josh, Liz and Kyle at Sarah’s family river house after the wedding, and were treated to delicious food, a boat ride, sangria, a church service on the lawn and more hospitality than anyone could ask for (Thanks!). It’s a fun group (the guys and Karen all work together) – it felt like a little vacation.

We started and ended our weekend at Labor Day Camp. Also known as “The Best Four Days of the Year”, this camp has been a part of our lives for a long time. Our entire church family attends – a million little animals kids, parents and pastors alike, and we take time to learn, eat and play together. My lovely mama danced, my little sister sprained her ankle but was too busy running around to notice, and my brother got to sit by the fire for hours with his friends. Our stay there (even though we always leave tired, sick of the camp food, totally over the hard wooden benches and in need of a real shower) is always refreshing and delightful.


So, we caught up with friends, listened to great teachings, had amazing times of prayer and ate lots of s’mores… In short, I don’t think we’d miss it for the world (even if that means getting ready for a wedding in a camp bathroom with no air conditioning in 100 degree heat…Thank the Lord for hairspray).

I hope your holiday was just as full of simple joys, and that you get to see friends and eat at your favorite restaurant soon too.

Do it. It’s worth it.