Show and Tell – Christmas Cookies

For show and tell this week I thought I’d share my oldest son’s favorite sugar cookie recipe with you! He has become quite the baker in our family and can somehow turn out a better product even when we are using the same recipe. (It must be that he’s able to be focused on the task while I am multi-tasking a million things while cooking and baking, LOL!!)

Cookie Dough

Jason Jr. made the dough while Jenna helped me roll it out and cut the shapes.

Rolling the Dough

It was fun trying to get as many shapes as we could into one batch – sort of like tracing out applique shapes on quilt fabric. Hmm, that gives me an idea – cookie cutter appliques!

Cutting the Shapes

We decorated the cookies for family night and then dropped off a few batches for friends and neighbors. They think we were just being nice – in reality I could eat all these cookies myself which would NOT be good for my waistline, so I had to share!

Decorating the Cookies

 Jason Sr. and Ryan really enjoyed decorating. (My hubby really does have an eye for color when helping me pick out fabrics). We have a creative family!

Here’s the recipe which my son found online from Picky-Palate.

  • 2 Cups sugar
  • 1 Cup butter, softened
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 Cup sour cream
  • 6 Cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  1. In an electric or stand mixer, cream the sugar and butter. Add eggs, vanilla and sour cream until well combined. Slowly add in the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt until well combined.
  2. Chill for at least 2 hours for best results.
  3. Once chilled, roll and cut into desired shapes. Bake at 350 degrees for 9-11 minutes. Remove and let cool. Frost and decorate as desired.

And here’s our favorite creamy frosting recipe to go with it, from You know what the special ingredient is? Sour cream! It blends well with the powdered sugar for some yummy creamy goodness.

  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • food coloring

In a medium bowl, mix together the butter, sour cream, vanilla, lemon juice and salt. Stir in powdered sugar and beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Divide the frosting into as many bowls as you have colors. Add food coloring until desired color is achieved.

Yummy Cookies


Happy Halloween 2012

From our family to yours – Happy Halloween! This year we dressed up as Star Trek cadets. Yes, I’m in a red shirt so that doesn’t bode well for Halloween night, LOL!!

Star Trek Family

I actually dressed up twice this Halloween season. A friend of mine held a Witches’ Brew for all of her friends. We each dressed up in our scariest witchy frock and enjoyed some devilishly decadent desserts! There were about 30 witches in attendance but I could only get a few of us to stand still under the light long enough to snap a picture. As you can see from our scary eyes – it was a very low-lit party.

A Witches' BrewHere are a few more fun pictures of costumes from Halloweens past. We love to dress up!

I made Thing 1 and Thing 2 costumes for Jason and myself in a rare attempt at creating something other than quilts! I sewed the pants using Dr. Seuss’ The Cat in the Hat fabric. I purchased red shirts and then appliqued letters onto circles that I cut out of fabric. I found the wigs for $3 each at Target which inspired the costumes to begin with. What a deal!

Thing 1 and Thing 2 Halloween Costumes

Our Toy Story debut was actually part of a previous Christmas dress-up scavenger hunt. But now these costumes have done double duty for Halloween, too!

Toy Story CostumesHmm, I wonder what improvements I could make using Mr. Potato Head fabric now??

Weight Loss Week 18 – Birthday Treats

I started off my week great since losing 20 pounds last week. I was eating healthy and keeping up with my exercise habits. Jason grilled a nice steak dinner one night  and instead of loading up on potatoes and bread, we added lots of veggies and fruit to our plate.

Eat This...

Eat This…

Not That!!

Not That!!

However,  by the end of the week my eating took a turn for the worse. We celebrated my birthday, so that night I had cake and ice cream for dinner, and one night of indulgence quickly lasted all weekend…

About ChristaI gained a teeny tiny 2 tenths of a pound this week which wasn’t really all that bad, considering. But, I would like to have another big weight loss soon.

For my birthday, my younger son and daughter made my favorite cake, German Chocolate, and my oldest son whipped up the home-made chocolate chip ice-cream. I loved the sentiment and the treats. Yum!

I was also very impressed with my creative husband, Jason. He assembled the “Christa Art” and framed it for me all without me knowing! All that graphic arts web design is paying off. 🙂

And, my crafty friend Alexis, Crocheted Pincushionwho blogs over at Persia Lou, made this adorable crocheted pincushion for me. How sweet!

So, this week’s goal is to get myself back on the right track, (including anyone else who’s following along and is hopefully inspired by my journey).

To do this, I will remember who I’m getting healthy for and why I am doing it:

1. To have enough energy to get through my busy days.

2. To live long enough to make all the quilts I want to create.

3. To be around for my family for a long, long time!!

Here’s to a great week ahead!

Weight Loss Week 16 – Back on the Bandwagon!

Boy I had a rough week! It started out great with a 2 pound weight loss last week, but then I got cocky, tired, busy and stressed, and things really went downhill! I ran 6 miles on Wednesday and then did the classic exercise blunder – I thought I could eat whatever I wanted that day!

Big Mistake! One day of bad eating turned into three, and one night of bad sleep and no exercise lasted for 2 more days.  I am a stress eater and once I had fallen off the wagon, it was mighty hard to climb back on.

I was nearly on the verge of giving up when I remembered that I had to have something to write about today! So at the last minute I decided to straighten up my act. I was super good on Saturday and Sunday, did a really hard workout this morning and minimized what could have turned into a disaster. I did gain .2 pounds but earlier in the week it could have been much more. My total weight loss is 19.4 pounds so far and I am so close to 20!!

So here are this week’s tips on how not to have a repeat disaster:

1. Don’t give up – no matter what! Even though my bad day turned into a bad week, I stopped it from becoming a bad month! I reevaluated my goals for this week into something achievable, as in stopping the bloodletting and getting back on track!

2. Sleep, sleep sleep! – I’ve mentioned sleep before, but that is the number one factor for me on whether I’m able to get up the next morning and start my day off on the right track. If I don’t get a good night’s sleep, it’s nearly impossible for me to function the next day and that leads to further bad habits throughout the day.

3. Be accountable! – I don’t know how many times I’ve saved myself from quitting because I have to be accountable for my goals. My workout buddies will get mad at me if I skip out on more than a day or two of exercise. And I have 15 weeks now of blogging and journaling under my belt to catalog my weight loss journey. I can’t stop now!

I sure hope this week turns out better!

Weight Loss Week 15 – Calorie Counting

I mentioned calorie counting in the first few weeks when I began my weight loss journey. I think it’s time  to come back to it again because it truly has been the key to my success.

For 14 weeks I’ve faithfully recorded what I’ve been eating and it really works! I’m having a lot more energy and I’m not as tired. That all translates into more sewing time for myself. Plus, when I sew more, I eat less because I don’t want to get my fabric dirty; it’s a win-win!

I lost 2 pounds this week for a total of 19.6 pounds so far. Whoo hoo! (Here’s where I was last week.) I’m over half-way to my goal and will post another picture next week when I get to 20 pounds.  That means in another 15 weeks or perhaps less, I can stop talking about my diet and start blogging more about quilting!!)

For my weight loss goals and my height, I’m trying to stick to between 1200-1500 calories a day. Here are this week’s tips on how to make your calories count!

1. Eat 6 times a day. Instead of splitting that up into 6 – 200 calorie “meals”, I actually eat 3 – 300 calorie meals and then try to have 3 – 100 calorie snacks. That totals up to 1200 calories. If I’m feeling a bit snacky or hungry, I’ll add an extra 100 calories to 3 more of the meals or snacks. But above all, I try not to eat more than 400 calories in any one sitting.

2. Write everything down. And I mean EVERYTHING! Sure, during this diet I’ve had 2000+ calorie “cheat” days. I’ve also had meals that were 500-600 calories. But by writing it down, that 2000 calorie day doesn’t turn into a 3000 calorie day. And that 600 calorie meal doesn’t evolve into 1000 calorie meal, which is easy to do! (Think burger, large fries, and a shake and you’ve already consumed almost a day’s worth of calories in just one meal!)

One more thing about writing it down that has really helped – blogging about it! Since I know I have to be accountable each Monday, I really watch what I’m doing all week. I can’t just quit when so many people are following my progress. (Even if they aren’t, I’ll pretend that they are so I can’t let them down – ha-ha-ha!!)

3. Estimate calories if needed. I like to use an online ap (my fitness pal) and calorie counting books to keep track of what I’m eating. However, there are times when I have no clue what how many calories are in certain foods I’m eating. If that’s the case, I’ll just estimate. Even if my count is off, the act of writing it down is just as important as whether or not the numbers are exact.

4. Eat quality calories. Sure, I could eat 100 calories worth of chips for one of my snacks but that wouldn’t get me very far. It would only be about 8-9 Doritos and that wouldn’t fill me up at all! Instead, if I can have a handful of nuts (more dense protein) or an apple and a large serving of carrots, it will curb my cravings and keep me satisfied much longer. I love to add fruits and veggies to all my meals so that doesn’t leave much room for the junk.

Here’s to another healthy week!

Weight Loss Week 14 – Surviving Vacation

I was in vacation mode last week while we were at Hermosa Beach, California with our family. It was the best time I’d had in a long time but I still had to be careful not to throw caution to the wind and give up my healthy habits for a week.

Last Week, I lost weight before I left, and today I’m happy to report that I kept it off, and then some. I lost .6 pounds this week for a total of 17.6 pounds. I’m almost halfway to my goal! Here are a few tips on how to survive a change in routine while on vacation:

1. Eat lots of fresh produce. Early in the week we stopped at a local farmer’s market that was just a short walk from the beach. We picked up fresh fruits and veggies and used those to snack on and cook with all week.  Sure, we had some treats, but we we rented a beach house that had a full kitchen and kept our eating out to a minimum!

Fresh FruitFarmers Market Veggies

2. Find fun ways to exercise on vacation. The boardwalk in front of the beach house included miles and miles of smooth cement for rollerblading! It was very kid friendly and safe. I also ran barefoot on the beach with my oldest son. I’ve always wanted to try that and I found that I really enjoyed it!

Rollerblades are fun!Barefoot Beach Running

If I had a beach at home, I’d do this every day! I wonder if there are any beach marathons?

3. If you’ve got it, flaunt it. Well, I still have a little too much of it – that’s why I’m working so hard to lose it! But I did feel much more comfortable in my bathing suit this year. This is the suit I bought when I lost my first 10 pounds. I still have another one waiting for me when I get to the next 20!

Christa & Jason at the BeachNow that I’m home again and back to a regular routine, I hope to have another great week!

Weight Loss Week 13 – Seeing R.E.D!

Jason and I have come up with a fun little acronym for our weight loss plan – R.E.D which stands for Rest, Exercise, and eat a healthy Diet.  We have learned that if we don’t implement R.E.D, we will see red! (As in anger and frustration!!)

We have learned by experience that sleep is most important for Jason, exercise keeps me balanced in more ways than one, and we both just feel better when we eat wholesome, nutritious food.

By the way, this week I lost another pound,  bringing my total weight loss to 17 pounds gone. That’s like a 6 month old baby! Here’s how I was doing last week.

So here are this week’s tips on how to implement R.E.D.

Rest – get at least 8 hours of sleep each night. I naturally wake up at about the same time each day – for some reason I can’t sleep in any more 😦 So it’s in my best interest to get to bed early if I want to feel good the next day.

Exercise – wherever and whenever I can fit it in. If I’m short on time, I’ll do little things like take the stairs instead of the escalator, and park further away in the grocery store parking lot.

Diet – not the latest “fad” diets, but instead, I like to choose good things to eat like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, milk, and healthy fats like olive oil, avocados and nuts. I do like treats, but try to eat them in moderation.

This week I’ll really try to stay focused as we head out for our annual beach trip. I already know what next week’s topic will be – eating well on vacation!

Weight Loss Week 2 – Eating Well

Today was my “official” weigh-in day with my friends and I’m happy to report I’m down 5.5 pounds! Whoo-hoo! I feel like the Biggest Loser!! (That is a good thing, referencing the television reality show that encourages overweight people to get healthy and fit). While that is a pretty big weight loss for the first week,  I don’t expect that kind of weight loss every week. But I’m happy about it so I’ll take it. My goal is to lose about 30 more!!

So how did I do it? Quite simply, I ate lots of fruits & veggies and watched my calories! I wrote down everything I ate and limited myself to 1200 calories per day. For my five-foot tall frame, that’s quite enough (for you taller gals out there, you’d want to adjust your calories accordingly.). What made my eating successful this week is I tried the 6 meals a day plan. No, that doesn’t mean six large meals. It means 3 moderate 300 calorie meals with 3 healthy 100 calorie snacks, eating about every 2-3 hours.  Here are a two pictures of actual meals I ate this week, a breakfast and a dinner of 300 calories each.

300 Calorie Breakfast300 Calorie DinnerThe trick to keeping these meals low-calorie is in the portion sizes and by watching the condiments and sauces. The eggs and hash browns were fried in cooking spray and the corn was sweet enough that I didn’t need to add any butter. The milk is low-fat and the chicken salad was made with plain vanilla yogurt rather than mayonnaise. Notice the addition of grapes to round out the meal.

Here are  few tips on how I will maintain my enthusiasm and stick to my eating plan:

1. Don’t say NO to ANY type of food. If I want a cookie, I’m going to have a cookie but I’m going to count it as either part of my 300 calorie meal or 100 calorie snack. Hmm, 100 calorie snack packs anyone?? (And I’m going to just have 1 treat – not 10!!)

2. Add fruit and veggies to EVERY meal. They are high in fiber which fills me up and keeps me from being too hungry. A banana makes a great 100 calorie snack. 1 cup of steamed broccoli or summer squash is about 30 calories. A good sized tomato is only 25 calories.

3. Watch my liquid calories. I’m sticking to 1% milk (I don’t do fat-free anything!) Also, it’s more filling and better for your system to eat a whole orange or apple, rather than drinking it as juice. I’ll lay off the sodas and dessert drinks (I’d rather just drink water).

4. Keep going when life gets in the way. I had a small accident on my road bike this week which sent me to the doctor for stitches on my chin. But instead of using it as an excuse to give up and eat a pity party, I renewed my determination to not let anything stand in the way of my goals!

Until next week, I’ll keep thinking healthy thoughts!! In case you missed it, you can read about Week One HERE.

Green Deviled Eggs Recipe

Today is National Quilting Day AND St. Patrick’s day. So that means I should be making some green quilts, right? Well, I did make something green today, but it wasn’t sewing. I made my favorite little finger food for a church social activity tonight.

Deviled Eggs are my specialty – the thing I bring to any potluck because they are easy to make and cheap! They are sort of old-school, but  hardly any one makes them and everyone loves them! Our theme for the evening is green food, so I just added a little food coloring.

St. Patrick's Deviled Eggs

Here’s the recipe, more or less: 1 dozen boiled eggs, dash of paprika, squirt of mustard, glop of sweet relish, a few table spoons of mayo, and food coloring (optional). I’m not exact, but everything is to taste – just keep it on the dry side; too wet & it’s more like egg salad filling.

First, boil the eggs but peel off the shells before you dye them.  A few drops of green food coloring added to boiling water with a teaspoon of vinegar does the trick.

Green Eggs

Green Eggs - Hold the Ham!

Next, cut each egg in half, scoop out the yolks and mash up with the rest of the filling stuff. For extra greenness, add a few drops of green to the filling. Looks like pistachio ice cream! You could even cut the eggs in 1/2 before you dye them so the entire egg-white turns green.

Deviled Egg FillingGreen Filling

For travel, I like to put my eggs in a dish with little ovals that hold each one separately. It doesn’t have a lid, so I just put toothpicks on a few random eggs and cover with plastic. Yummy!

Ready for the Appetizers!

Christmas Cookie Exchange and Recipe

Mint Chocolate Chip CookiesYesterday, some friends and I had a really fun cookie swap. 12 of us met for dinner and we each made 12 dozen of the same cookies, then took home 12 dozen different cookies!

I used my son’s favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. It calls for ice cream in the batter which makes them very rich.

Cookie DoughDoesn’t the batter look delicious?

Here’s the recipe: 2 sticks butter, 1 cup sugar, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 2 eggs, 1 1/2 T vanilla, 1 1/2 T mint extract, 3/4 cup mint ice cream, 4 cups flour, 1 1/2 t baking soda, 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips.

Cream together wet ingredients; mix dry ingredients and add to wet mix to combine. With cookie scoop, drop onto baking sheet. Bake for 11 min. Makes 4 dozen cookies.

Cookie IngredientsMy Son the BakerJason Jr. made the dough while I spent 2 hours baking 144 cookies. The cookie scoop was fun to use. I packed each dozen separately so they were ready to swap for our party.

Cookie Scoops12 Dozen CookiesMy fiiend Katie and I hosted the dinner at her house and we all swapped the cookies with recipes after.

Dinner With FriendsCookies Under the TreeChristmas Fabric DecorChrista & KatieKatie has the same model house as me. It’s fun to see how she decorated it, especially with fabric centerpieces!

It was such fun sampling all the different cookies and adding to my recipe collection. I ate as many of them as I could, then packed up the rest for my neighbors and friends. After a couple of days of indulging, I’d better hit the gym, first thing in the morning!