2011's Fab Five

Whew!  Long time no see!  I guess that's what Christmas vacay will do.

But much more on that later.

Right now it's time to look back at our top 5 posts from the past year.

#5 - Ring Around the Chicken Salad

Definitely still one of our go-to meals.  I actually just put it on our menu tonight!

#4 - Confessions of a Couch Potato

This one made me smile.  I always tell JP a sure-fire way to get people interested is to talk in intimate detail about how unhealthy you are.  And sure enough, thanks to all you nosy peeps out there, here it is at #4.  I will say, I don't love running yet.  Before I loathed it and now I actually kinda like it...even though it's been a little too long since I've last done it.

#3 - No-Sew Ruffle Tree Skirt

My oh my, how I love this project.  I think I'll weep tears of sorrow when I have to pack away our tree skirt.  I may just leave it out and find new ways to use it year round.  Maybe a new skirt for myself?  Or perhaps one of those rugs you put on the floor around your toilet?  And then I could make a matching toilet lid cover!  Ruffles all around folks!

#2 - Another Pinterest-ing Project

I had alot of fun with this project.  This was the last BIG project that we did the whole thing together.  JP and I always say DIY projects are good for a marriage.  It's true.

And finally....

Pulling in as our Champion of 2011....

#1 - JP the Pergolar

I have to admit this one really surprised me.  JP is always wanting to write posts about things...like car detailing or about his day at the gun range so he could show everyone this picture:

{to all you moms and dads out there...you're welcome.}

So I told him he could but it could only be 5 sentences long.  I don't know why he never did.

Anyway, he is the sole reason this post is ranked #1, and rightfully so.  He did a wonderful job on it and we still love it!

The Frosting on the Cake

Yesterday I shared my recipe for Nutella frosting and forgot to include how I frosted them.  I like to be fancy like that but I am not a cake designer.  Probably never will be.  So when I saw one of these thingies in the baking aisle at Wal-Mart...

...it looked easy enough.

It's called something like EZ Squeeze.  (It was literally hanging right beside the candles, frosting-in-a-tube, and cupcake liners at Wal-Mart...) It comes with 3 different nozzles.  You just fill 'er up, and squeeze it out. I started in the center and worked my way out.

And she's washable.

And it cost $1.00.  Have I mentioned we're cheap frugal?

Nutella Frosting

This frosting contains 1 cup of Nutella.

Need I say more?

You should already be running to your kitchen to make this...because every sane woman has a stash of Nutella.  Right?  Well, I don't always have it...but I should.

~ 1 cup confectioners' sugar
~ 1 cup Nutella
~ 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
~ 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
~ 1/4 teaspoon salt
~ 1/3 cup heavy cream

Mix confectioners' sugar, Nutella, butter, vanilla, and salt on medium speed until creamy, scraping the sides of the bowl occasionally.  Add the cream and mix until the mixture is light and smooth.

I used this frosting on top of mini yellow cupcakes (I bought Betty Crocker brand) and they were the yummiest cupcakes ever.

I know I shouldn't toot my own horn but...


No-Sew Ruffle Tree Skirt

I am in love with this tree skirt!  I've been seeing them around Pinterest and finally sat down to make one.  From what I've read on other blogs, if you just sit down and work until it's finished, it takes somewhere around 4-5 hours.  I did not time myself because I knew I'd be working on it while our daughter was awake.  I started on it Friday evening around 5:00 and it was finished at lunchtime on Saturday.  {Karlie and I took lots of book reading/ball throwing/chocolate milk making/booty dancing breaks...all of which I highly recommend during this project}

WARNING:  While this was an incredibly easy project, it was tedious.  EX.TREME.LY. tedious.  Some may experience thoughts like:
"This is taking FORever."
"I'm running out of material..."
"I don't think I have enough glue sticks."
"My back is KILLING me!"
"No, literally.  I think I'm dying from back pain..."
"If those dogs shed one more hair on my ruffles..."
"Do you think two rows of ruffles is enough?"
All of these thoughts are normal.  Don't give up!  Some All of those thoughts may have come out of my mouth at some point.  Just take lots of breaks and try to have fun!  It will be beautiful!

Here's what I used:
~ 1 canvas dropcloth from Lowe's or Home Depot (you could also use a tree skirt you already have)
~ 3 yards white material (I'm pretty sure it was muslin)
~ 3 yards tan material (I'm not sure what it is exactly but it was sitting on the same shelf as the burlap at Joann's)
~ rotary cutter (MUCH easier/faster than using scissors)
~ glue gun and lots of glue sticks
~ something very entertaining

1.  Fold your drop cloth in half, and then in half again so it is quartered.
2.  Fold your square in half to form a triangle.
3.  My husband likes to be exact so we used a tape measure and Sharpie as a compass to draw the arc where we would cut.
4.  Cut that line and another smaller arc down at the point.

You should end up with a circle...**

**I was really hoping to be able to tell you which side of the triangle to cut but somehow we failed miserably and ended up with this....

So I had to whip out my sewing machine to sew the two half-circles together. (I could have also used hot glue)  

Begin cutting your strips of material.  The length doesn't really matter but the longer the better (then you won't have to keep reaching for strips) but they need to be 3 inches wide.

Now set up for the long haul.  This is what my work area looked like:

Using a little bit of glue at a time (it dries pretty quickly) use your strips to make ruffles.  My advice would be to make little ruffles.  I started out making the ruffles very tall but it uses more material and takes a little bit longer.

So if you make the ruffles shorter, it goes a little quicker and doesn't use as much material.  Anna phrased it: "Less ruffle, less fabric being used."  Something like that.  She's very wise.

Keep going and going and going, alternating fabric between rows.  Saturday morning I moved to the kitchen table because hunching over on the floor was taking a toll on my back.

A couple hours later, this is what I had....

I L-O-V-E it!  So much.  Or as Karlie says "doe mush."

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

* Courtesy of veryculinary.com

~ 1 cup (2 sticks) softened butter
~ 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
~ 1 cup sugar
~ 2 large eggs
~ 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
~ 3 1/2 cups flour
~ 1 teaspoon salt
~ 1 teaspoon baking soda
~ 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
~ 1 package of Oreos (I used Publix brand but didn't love them...no offense Publix, or Kalie)

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, mix butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together until well combined.  Beat in eggs and vanilla.
In a medium bowl mix the flour, salt, and baking soda together.  Slowly add this to the wet ingredients.  Then add the chocolate chips.
Take one ball of cookie dough... 

Put an oreo on top and smoosh it down...

Put another ball of cookie dough on top...

Then seal the edges.

Place cookies on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 13 minutes or until edges start to turn golden brown.  Let them cool for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

I got the recipe and plate idea from Pinterest...who's surprised?