Sean loves chai. But chai mix that tastes great, and is not too expensive, is a rare find! Our friend Caleb makes his own chai so we asked him how he does it. He approximates his recipe so we developed our own exact measurements as we followed his general directions. It turned out great!
6 cups of water
2 black tea bags
2 bay leaves
1 cinnamon stick (about 3 inches long)
1 nutmeg chopped in quarters (it’s helpful to use a very sharp knife and have the nutmeg resting on a towel so it doesn’t go flying when you cut it)
1 cup of sugar (can be adjusted according to taste)
~ Bring ingredients to simmer. Simmer until the tea mixture is just a bit stronger than you want. Remove nutmeg, leaves, and cinnamon, then let cool.
Add milk to taste. We used about 4 cups.
Ingredients. You can use any sort of black tea.
The pot with the nutmeg, bay leaves and cinnamon.
Simmering! It smelled soooo good!
Make sure you remove the nutmeg, leaves, and cinnamon stick!
One of the ways Kristine and I like to relax is to draw on our chalkboard wall as we listen to music. My brothers are working on recording a new album, so we used one of their songs as our inspiration. Part of that song accompanies this video. Kristine and I both have our own styles of thinking visually as we create abstract shapes and patterns as a way of processing our thoughts. This is the first time we’ve done this together and merged our two styles into the same image. The song was written and performed by Seth Gilbertson and produced by Steve Gilbertson.
I have the privilege of designing many of the graphics used for our church’s message series. The graphics are used as the title slides for PowerPoint as well as a header image on the bulletins. This design is for a series our pastor is beginning in February, titled “Person of Interest.” The sermons will be focusing on some of the lesser-known individuals in the Bible.
One of my family’s birthday traditions is decorating a cake for the birthday person. Growing up mom would let us pick out the shape and design we wanted for our cake and then she would decorate it for us. As we got older we helped her make and decorate our birthday cake. Everything I know about cake decorating I learned from my mom. This year I made my cake by myself.
Starting out, I frosted the sides and top edges of the cake with homemade white buttercream frosting.
Then I colored a portion of the frosting that I’d put aside sky blue. I dropped the blue frosting on top of the cake and blended it into the white frosting with a knife.
I decided to do the writing next (usually my mom and I put the writing on last when we make cakes together, but I decided to put it on at this point so I’d know how much space I needed/had left over for the rest of the cake design). Piping in writing is challenging! Before I piped the writing in on the cake I practiced on a piece of parchment paper so I had an idea of how large to make the writing and what sort of letter spacing I would need.
I forgot to take a picture of just the tree structure… so here ya go, two steps in one… I mixed some coco powder in to a portion of the buttercream frosting to make a rich brown frosting then used a star tip to create bark for my tree. Next I put two different buttercream icing greens (one a bit more yellow-green, the other more blue-green) together in the icing bag with a leaf tip so I’d get variegated leaves. I piped on leaves wherever I thought the tree needed some leaves. I could have stopped there, but mom gave me a few new tips for my birthday so I decided to use more of them and add some flowers to the tree.
Orange is my favorite color… so, orangey-peach flowers! Next I added yellow centers to the flowers.
And here’s a picture of the finished cake! I am very happy with how it looks. It tasted good too!
I made homemade vanilla extract for my mom, mother-in-law, and myself for Christmas this year. I started it in October since it needs at least two months to age. It takes:
Vanilla beans (I used Madagascar vanilla beans) - 3 bean pods per 8 oz of vodka
Clean, sterile bottle(s)
I sliced the vanilla bean pods in half lengthwise then dropped them into the clean bottle.
Next, I poured the vodka in over the vanilla beans. Once that was done I sealed the bottles and let them sit on a shelf in a cool, dark area. About once a week I’d shake the bottles so the vanilla and vodka would mix. Two months later…gorgeous vanilla extract ready for gifting! Simple, inexpensive, and a fun gift!
The first Christmas after we were married we got all done decorating the tree and discovered we didn’t have a topper. A quick run to the corner drug store fixed that with a $1 gold glitter snowflake/star/thing. It wasn’t amazing, but it worked.
This year I decided we needed to actually have a respectable tree topper, so I sewed an angel tree topper. My mom gave me the pattern for the angel they have on top of their tree. It took a lot longer and was a lot harder to make than I was anticipating! Part of that was the fact that I tried to cut a few corners to “speed things up” and, ya know, the way the pattern said to do it might have been right…
So many ruffles! So much gathering! All this took forever!
Princess Leia hair!
I’m probably most proud of the wings. I didn’t like the quilting design on the original pattern so I created a design of my own. For inspiration I looked at quilting patterns online, Maori designs, and butterfly wings. From those, I drew a pattern (freehand!) for one wing and then just mirror imaged it for the other wing.
I decided not to sew a face on the angel because if faces go wrong, they look horrible, and at best they’re staring down at you from atop the tree, which is kinda creepy in my opinion.
I think it looks pretty awesome on top of our Christmas tree! It’s definitely a huge improvement over our $1 tree topper.
Today we picked and cut down our Christmas tree for the year. We were a little more conservative than in previous years and got a 9ft tree. (We have gone up to 14ft in the past.) We thought a fun creative project would be to shoot a time-lapse video of our time decorating the tree. You get to enjoy four hours worth of work in less than a minute – lucky you.
(You may have noticed that our tree does not have a topper yet… we’re looking forward to showing you the one Kristine is making in our next post!)
Kristine and I celebrated our 3rd Anniversary this week! (In case the great recipes and amazing creations from her previous posts didn’t clue you in, you should know I have the best wife ever.) Anyway, getting sentimental and thinking back to when we first started dating reminded me of one my creative projects of which I’m most proud. Kristine and I had been dating for 2 months when we graduated from college together. I wanted to get her flowers, but I wanted it to show more thought and personalization than just basic flowers would. So, that’s how I came up with the idea to incorporate her favorite candy into the vase. You can see below that she was surprised and thrilled!
You could do this with just about any small object (candy or otherwise). Simply buy two vases, one large vase and another small enough to fit inside it. Make sure the vases have the right amount of space between them to fit whatever you want to use. Then, line the bottom of the vase with your object (if you’re really obsessive about detail like I am), set your smaller vase on top of that layer and start sliding the rest of your items in between. Below is a close-up with one of the top York Peppermints removed so you can see the smaller vase inside. (This was back when York mints came in cool foil wrappers instead of the plain ones they come in now.)
Are there any other candies or objects that you think would work well for this? Give it a try and let us know what you create!
One of Sean’s friends gave him a recipe for these really simple Oreo Truffles years ago and now everyone asks for them whenever we go to pitch-ins or parties. For one of our Thanksgiving get-togethers this year, we decided to make the truffles look a little more festive. If you need a last-minute recipe for a Thanksgiving-themed desert, we’ve got the perfect one for you right after the photos!
This makes about 30 truffles, which will serve at least 15 people. (They are so rich, very few people will eat more than one or two.)
1 Package of Oreos
1 8oz Package of Cream Cheese
1 12oz Bag of Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
Yellow and Red Icing
Crush the Oreos in a large bowl and knead the cream cheese into the Oreos until it is all a consistent mixture.
Roll the mixture into 1″ balls and place on a cookie sheet. Chill these in fridge for 1hr.
Melt semi-sweet chocolate chips and dip Oreo balls into melted chocolate to coat them.
Pour some of the melted chocolate into an icing bag and pipe the tail feather design onto a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. (Another option, which we thought of later, would be to use chocolate covered pretzels instead. – If you try this, let us know how it turns out.)
Place the chocolate-covered Oreo truffles onto the base of the tail feather designs.
Use the yellow and red icing to make a beak and wattle on the top of the truffle.
Place back in the fridge to chill.
To serve, set the turkeys upright on a tray. (Some may need the bases shaved down a bit to stand upright.)