Saturday, December 24, 2011

Ho ho ho!

Here's hoping your Santas are even half as cute as ours!

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Real Women Of Pinterest: Card Holders and Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

As some of you know, there is a special place in my heart for Pinterest. I luff it. I can distract myself endlessly on there. Contained within its bits and bytes are a million and one ideas for projects and decorations and clothes and things that I would like to do. However, after several months of "pinning", I have actually done exactly zero of the projects I have found on there. Pinterest FAIL. I have followed my dear friends mep and E... as they tackle projects as part of their Real Women of Pinterest challenge and every week I am inspired but the busyness of everyday life gets in the way and somehow another week passes without me doing anything.

But that changed this week!

I present my first project:The Card Holder

Majestic, isn't it? I know, I know. You all want one. Every year we get holiday cards from all of our nearest and dearest and they wind up cluttered on every available flat surface: dining table, mantle, bulletin board, refrigerator. I needed some way to display them but I hadn't really settled on anything. My first thought was a french memo board. I've made a few and I quite like them. But I didn't want it to be a permanent installation and we are not exactly overburdened with storage here, so I was reluctant to create something that would take up valuable space the other 11 months of the year. When I saw this idea on Pinterest, I was smitten. The original was hung on a hook over a door, but we don't have a door that would be good for that, they are all either out of the way or see too much use, so I hung it on a nail in the dining room. There are a few things I would change but I'm mostly happy with it, especially considering it was almost entirely constructed of things I had on hand. I would like to point out the level of attention to detail I committed to this: I dyed the clothespins to match the color scheme. Bow to my craftiness, minions.

My next project was a recipe for a cookie exchange: Peanut Butter Cup Brownies

I'll grant you, this recipe isn't exactly rocket surgery. Basically, it's a brownie mix with peanut butter poured on top, but it's peanut butter and chocolate, HELLO two great tastes that taste great together, and they looked cute. I keep trying overly complicated recipes and completely screwing them up, so I wanted something foolproof. Well, as with EVERYTHING in my world, nothing is foolproof, and I'm not overjoyed with how mine turned out. I'm going to blame my oven. (It certainly can't be MY fault. Pfft.) I couldn't seem to get the brownies to the exact right doneness wherein the center collapses and the peanut butter goes in perfectly. But reports were that they tasted good. I doubt I will make them again, but it was a fun experiement.

So that's it for this week! If you aren't already, get thee to Pinterest! If you want to see what I'm pinning, I'm Carabee74. And to see what some other Real Women of Pinterest are creating, check out Not to Brag.

Thursday, December 8, 2011


I love Christmastime. It is undeniably my favorite holiday. I love the tree and decorations and carols and the convivial spirit that everyone has. There is so much to enjoy. There are all of the little moments that will embody the season for Sophie as she grows older and my hope is that each year we can bring a little extra magic to the holiday for her. That extra this year came in a "cool" package.

The beautiful ladies of Momzshare organized a special event just for local bloggers. We were given the opportunity to visit the Gaylord National Hotel on the National Harbor in Washington DC to view their ICE! attraction. ICE! features ice carvings of all of the characters from Merry Madagascar, the upcoming holiday sequel to the beloved Madagascar films. In addition, within the Gaylord National atrium, a special Christmas village was set up with characters from many of the Dreamworks movies including Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and Puss in Boots. Hanging over the village was a 60 foot Christmas tree which, even before it was lit, was dramatic and beautiful.

The view overlooking the Christmas village. He's tough to see, but that's Shrek just underneath the tree.
Our first stop was a milk and cookies reception in the atrium where I sampled the white chocolate and cranberry rice crispy treats (note to self: figure out how to replicate these, STAT) and Sophie sipped on Ogre Milk (presumably not the milk of ogres, but it was green) and nibbled on sugar cookies in between jumping up and down while she waved furiously at Shrek below.

Cutest ogre EVER.

Scheduled for a 3:30 tour of ICE, we took our time strolling around National Harbor before heading over to the enormous white tents that house the famous ice sculptures. Living where we do, National Harbor is a special visit for us and while I visited once a couple years ago, I haven't been back since. It is a wonderful area, many great restaurants, galleries and shops, plus a spectacular view of the Potomac. I would love to get back down there for an afternoon or evening out.

During the opening film, they told us the tent holding the ice would be cold and I believed them, but I didn't REALLY believe them. As you enter, they give you long, heavy parkas to wear over your own coats. Flattering? Not really. But once you step inside you begin to understand why, because, brother, is it cold in there. So cold that I quickly abandoned taking pictures or attempting to tweet on my iPhone because it was simply too cold to go without gloves for more than a few seconds. But bundled in my extra layers, cap and gloves securely in place, I was cozy enough to take in the amazing ice sculptures. According to the film, more than 2 million pounds of ice were whittled down by 40 international artists to create the wonders we were viewing.

Each room left us more amazed than the next. Giant ice versions of our favorite Madagascar characters greeted us at every turn. Alex the lion, Marty the zebra, Melman the giraffe, Gloria the hippo, the penguins and, of course, Santa were all there. But it was when we got to the ice slides that Sophie really went crazy. Here is where we were glad to have the extra long coats to cover our behinds when we slid down the ice chutes. Sophie went down by herself and was back in line to go again so fast it made my head spin.

We finished up the ice pavilion and headed back over to the hotel for some dinner at the hotel's sports bar and grill where Neil caught a bit of the Ravens game before a visit with Shrek and the gang. Unfortunately, when it came to actually talking to Shrek, Sophie unexpectedly turned shy. But from a safe perch in mommy or daddy's arms, she met all of her favorites.

We had hoped to stay for the grand lighting of the hanging tree, which includes a light show, singing, dancing fountains and an indoor snow fall, but unfortunately our little bean was just too pooped, so we had to depart. But we left already making plans to come back again to see the lighting on another visit and see all of the wonders again.

Disclosure: We were given tickets to ICE and the other holiday attractions at the Gaylord National in exchange for a post. We paid for our own dinner. All opinions are my own.