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Drawstring Bag Advent Calendar

After Janssen posted her adorable Advent calendar, I decided to blatantly copy her and post my own.  Because imitation is the highest form of flattery, right?  Bonus - this project is simple enough that there's still time to get it done before tomorrow!

Even better, you can all copy, too.  As you may suspect, I have a fond affection for the holidays, and for holiday traditions.  And I want to see all of yours!  So I can steal your ideas, too.  So I thought it would be fun to do a little linkup on traditions - Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanzaa, Thanksgiving, whatever.  I want to hear about them.  I'll be sharing activities and songs and talks that will be included each day for the Advent calendar, as well as other Christmas traditions we have.

So get ready to link up next Wednesday, December 5th, with your favorite holiday traditions!*

*Please participate.  I kind of have a fear that no one will.

Drawstring Bag Advent Calendar

You'll Need:
Fabric for the bags (depends how big you want your bags...I used ,maybe half a yard? I'm so bad at estimating these things)
Fabric for the backing (depends how big your backing is)
Some sort of backing - mounting or wood or plain ol' cardboard
24 clothespins
Glitter + craft glue (or just paint)
Ribbon or twine
Sewing machine
Safety pin

1. Make the Drawstring Bags

 1.a. Cut out a piece of fabric.  I liked the sizing best when it was about 4" x 5.5", but you can make it whatever size you want.  (I happened to have this snowflake fabric lying around.  It was randomly included in a fabric.com order I made about a year ago, and is absolutely hideous for anything but something like this.)

1.b. Fold down the longer side and sew it down.  I used a straight stitch for most of them and tried a zigzag on the last few, but I don't think it really matters.

1.c.  Fold your fabric in half (with the long ends coming together) with right sides together.

 1.d. Beginning UNDER your first stitch, begin sewing along your open side and open bottom.  Do not sew along the top (where you previously folded and sewed down the fabric).  Make sure you start sewing under the stitch so you don't close off the hole for the string.

1.e. Turn your bag right side out.

1.f. Pin a safety pin through the end of your ribbon (I used twine) and push it through one opening in the casing on the top of the bag.  Work it through and pull it out the other end.  Tie a knot with the two ends and you're done with your bag!  Make 24 of these (sounds like a lot, but it goes super fast once you have the fabric cut and you get into the rhythm).

2. Make the Backing

2.a. Find some sort of backing.  I was just going to use a thicker cardboard, but then we had some old, thick backing that worked perfectly.  You could also use a piece of wood, I would imagine.

Stretch your fabric over the backing and adhere to the back (I'm classy and just stapled it in place.  it's the back!).  I used some white fleecy felt that I had and did a second layer with some pretty, stretchy white lace.

3. Make your Clothespins

3.a. Paint your clothespins however you like.  I painted them with regular craft glue and then sprinkled them with gold glitter.  I'll probably go back over them with some more glue so glitter doesn't get eeeeeverywhere.  I imagine that fancy stuff called Mod Podge I keep hearing about would work, as well.

4. Put it Together!

4.a. Hot glue your clothespins to your backing and clip the bags on.  (Don't worry, those of you who are very concerned about my clothespins not being straight, they're not glued down yet.)

Admire your pretty work!

Linking up with the winthrop chronicles

Giveaway - $20 Credit to YuniKelley

Remember this gorgeous bracelet I wore a few posts ago?

Well, guess what?  You have a chance to win a $20 credit to YuniKelley so you can get one of your very own.

I've seriously worn this thing practically every day since I got it.  It goes with everything and is simple but adds a little something to any outfit.  Plus, she has a bunch of sizes so it actually fits my weirdly-and-not-in-a-cute-way skinny wrist.  Win.

You know the deal!  Or can't wait?  Get 20% off with the code LACEETC20!

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My Favorite Holiday

Oh yes - have I told you?  I'm the queen of flaky, buttery crusts :)
Adorable craft blatantly stolen from Rachel

Can you even handle the sweetness of this baby?  I think not

PS - check out the winner of the Shabby Apple giveaway here!


a) Okay, more-tech-savvy-than-I-am-folks - I was about to do a post and was trying to upload pictures when I got some message that I'm out of space for photos in my Picasa account.  Does this mean I have too many pictures on my blog?  Do I have to upgrade storage, or is there a way to delete past pictures from my Picasa account (without deleting them from the blog, of course).  Help!

b) Today's the last day to enter the $50 Shabby Apple Gift Card Giveaway!

c) Happy Thanksgiving!

My Favorite Thanksgiving Recipe

I adore Thanksgiving.  It is, without question, my very favorite holiday.  There's food and family and it's the start of the Christmas season.  Christmas day always feels a little bittersweet to me because it's the end of the wonderful season and in a week, you have to stop listening to Christmas music for another 11 months.  With Thanksgiving, the entire glory of Christmas, with the music and decorating and thinking of others and, most importantly, time to reflect on the Savior, is still ahead of you.  Yes, Thanksgiving is the best.

And Thanksgiving food.  I get asked all the time what I do for Thanksgiving since I'm a vegetarian, to which I reply, what do YOU do?  Really, basically everything except the turkey is vegetarian-friendly (and I absolutely refuse to do tofurky or any other mysterious meat substitutes.  just give me gobs of cheese and cream and roasted veggies, please).  And most people I know when forced to choose between turkey and pie would choose the latter, anyway.

Though it's hard to choose a true favorite (I mean, there's cornbread and pumpkin soup and mashed potatoes...), this one is definitely near the top.  Infinitely better than that marshmallow-laden junk, I feel fairly confident in saying that if you make this once, it will never again leave your Thanksgiving table.

Happy unTurkey day!

Please forgive the terrible photo from 3 Thanksgivings ago...sadly, this is the best in all the years we've made it

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Sweet Potato Casserole (adapted ever-so-slightly from here)

2 large sweet potatoes
1/2 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1/2 t salt
2 T butter, softened
1/2 cup milk
1/2 t vanilla extract

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup AP flour
3 T butter, softened
1/2 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 325.

Peel, cook and mash sweet potatoes (if you're lazy like me, you can just poke a few holes in them, pop them in the microwave until they're tender, slip the peels right off, and mash. no cutting or peeling necessary!).  Add in sugar, eggs (if you're fancy, you can beat them before, but I just put them straight in - just make sure your potatoes are cool enough that they don't scramble your egg), salt, butter, milk, and vanilla and beat until smooth.  Transfer to a 9x13 baking dish.

Combine brown sugar, flour, butter in a medium bowl, rubbing the butter into the dry ingredients with your fingers (or I suppose you could use a fork).  Add in pecans.  Sprinkle topping over sweet potato mixture.  (Note: This makes a LOT of topping.  Feel free to dial back a bit if you don't want quite so much sweet topping.  But you probably do.)

Bake in preheated oven 30 minutes, or until the topping is golden.

Shades of Blue

Blouse: Banana Republic; Sweater: Target; Skirt: Consigned; Belt: Thrifted; Boots: Payless
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I used to think monochrome was totally bizarre.  The perfectionist in me would think, They're almost the same, but not?  Not contrasting, but not quite matching?  This must be wrong.  But I was totally loving all the blues in this.  Maybe this means I'm becoming less anal?  I think Nat's seemingly built-in tendency to line up everything he sees would say otherwise.

Don't forget to enter the $50 Shabby Apple gift card giveaway!

Linking up with The Pleated Poppy


 Sweater: Gap c/o clothing swap; Jeans: F21; Boots: Payless; Scarf: India; Bracelet: c/o Yuni Kelley (giveaway coming soon!)
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Doesn't this just seem like the right kind of outfit for a Friday?  Basic, cute, comfortable formula - jeans, sweater, boots, scarf, stealth bracelet.  You know.  Perfect for week-before-Thanksgiving prep, for running errands and starting to think about pulling down Christmas decorations, for counting down the minutes until Christmas music, and for drinking hot chocolate.  Lots and lots of hot chocolate.  Happy weekend!

Don't forget to enter the $50 Shabby Apple Gift Card Giveaway!

Yellow & Olive

Top: Old Navy; Pants: Target; Boots: Payless
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Yesterday morning, I awoke with a wicked sore throat, and today it's turned into a full-fledged cold.  Shouldn't it be a rule that moms can't get sick?  Or that you can't get sick when the weather is beautiful out?  Or that you can't get sick when you're busy doing important things like attending cooking clubs focusing on favorite Thanksgiving side dishes and you need your taste buds intact?  Or perhaps colds should just be against the rules, period.  Who's with me?

Giveaway Reminder!  Don't forget to enter the $50 Shabby Apple Gift Card Giveaway!

Linking up with The Pleated Poppy

$50 Shabby Apple Gift Card Giveaway!

Who doesn't yet know about Shabby Apple?  Because if you don't, it's possible that you've been living under a rock.  They have some pretty pretty dresses, many of which have a fun vintage flavor.  I have one of their shirtdresses, and this lovely skirt you'll recognize from having pretty much gotten me through my pregnancy.

I love that they have everything from casual dresses to maxi dresses to almost-formal dresses (I love this new lace dress).

If you aren't the lucky winner or if you just can't wait, you can use the coupon code laceetc10off to take 10% off your order at your leisure.

Sorry foreign friends, but giveaway is only open to those with a US shipping address.

Good luck!
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Favorite Vegetarian Meals from a Lifelong Vegetarian

I haven't talked about it much on here, but I'm a vegetarian.  Have been my whole life.  My parents grew up vegetarian, and so did I, and I've never felt the need to venture away from it.

A few weeks ago, the lovely Erica wrote about eating a more vegetarian-friendly lifestyle, and I offered to send her over some more tried-and-true veggie recipes.  She said "yeah or post them on your blog."  And here we are.

I bring you my top 10 favorite* vegetarian meals.

*With easily accessible online recipes.  Rome wasn't built in a day, you know.

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  1. Homemade pizza: This is my favorite crust.  We usually do some mix of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, caramelized onions, basil, and whatever other veggies we have around.  I also love caramelized fennel and I imagine we'll be doing some more roasted veggies now that we're getting into that season.
  2. Build-Your-Own TexMexican: We'll usually do some sort of huevos (good gracious, we love this "recipe") or tacos or Cafe Rio-type salad (this creamy tomatillo dressing with homemade buttermilk dressing is great) at least once a week.  The huevos are a snap to pull together, we always have the ingredients on hand, and it's way more than the sum of its parts.  We eat them with fresh pico and guac.  For a quick meal, we'll do Latin store-bought corn tortillas, but if we have more time, I'll make homemade wheat tortillas.
  3. Parmesan and Root Vegetable Lasagna: A little more work, but the ultimate in fall comfort food.
  4. Chickpea Pasta: We love adding chickpeas to our pasta to bulk it up and make it more filling.  We usually use whole-wheat penne.
  5. Chana Masala: Are you getting the idea that we love Smitten?  This flavors of this are spot on, and it comes together in about 30-40 minutes.  We break with Indian tradition and eat it with brown rice.  I've also done it with kidney beans with good results.
  6. Corn Chowder: Just seems right for fall.
  7. Portobello and Black Bean Enchiladas with Roasted Poblano Sauce: Again, a little more work, but good heavens these are tasty.  The salsa I could practically drink from a cup.
  8. Red Coconut Curry Noodles: Delish.
  9. Artichoke Stuffed Shells: Perfect for a nicer meal at home.
  10. Crepes: This is the most authentic batter recipe I've found.  Fill with any combo of cheese and veggies and sauce.  And Nutella.  Always Nutella.