Well hello there! This is the place where I share my crafts, recipes, knitting and crochet projects, photos, and moments of family life in the Midwest.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas 2013

The whole Dieter family got to go home to Ames Iowa this Christmas to be with our family and friends. (Jered worked Thanksgiving - so got Christmas off! Yippee!) Since there was enough snow this year the boys got outside and sled the hill in the back yard. I was thankful that there wasn't too much white stuff so we were able to go visiting and see both Grandparents and our friends - Nick and Jenny. The boys were very good this year, of course, and they got way too many presents from Santa. The cutest gift was from my parents - matching fleeces. We had to pose them for that picture. Max and Riley also got quite a bit of Minecraft toys. (Can't believe they still like that game after more than a year.) Thank you to all our family for the gifts and time spent over this holiday. We are blessed.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Thumbprint Cookies

It is ten days until Christmas. That's right. Ten. Since Thanksgiving was so late in November, my whole schedule is thrown off. Anyone else feeling this way? At least I have my gift list under control. Today I got around to baking our third Christmas cookie, Almond Thumbprints. I  always use raspberry preserves and orange marmalade, but any jam works. 

Almond Thumbprint Cookies

2 sticks of butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp almond flavor
1 3/4 cup of flour
Raspberry Preserves
Orange Marmalade
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Cream together butter and sugar until completely combined
  3. Add almond flavor and mix again
  4. Add flour by halves mixing completely each time. If dough is too sticky you can add up to 1/4 cup more flour.
  5. Roll into equal balls and press with thumb. Fill each cookie with jam. 
  6. Bake for 14 minutes, or until slightly brown on bottom.
  7. Cool and then drizzle frosting (recipe below) over cookies.

Almond Frosting

1/2 cup confectioners sugar
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp almond flavor

Mix together completely. If not able to drizzle, add more milk one tablespoon at a time.


In other news, Riley got to paint his Christmas train today. I always try to get the kids some sort of craft to work on in case we get snowed in or just bored on the weekends. He also worked on some ornaments for family presents. Making is the best for giving.

Sunday, December 08, 2013

Chocolate Cookies

Day two of Christmas Cookie baking, and this time it's my Best Ever Chocolate Cookies. These cookies are like brownies in a cookie shape. They are great plain or topped with peppermint butter cream frosting.

The Best Ever Chocolate Cookies

1 cup butter softened
1 cup white sugar
¾ cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ¼ cup Hersey’s Cocoa Powder
1 ¾ cup flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Cream together butter, both types of sugar, egg and vanilla.
  3. Blend together Cocoa Powder, flour and baking soda.
  4. Combine wet and dry ingredients until completely mixed.
  5. Bake for 9 minutes. Let cool a bit before moving to cooling rack. 

Peppermint Butter Cream Frosting Recipe 

1 cup of softened butter
3 cups of confectioners' sugar
1 tsp peppermint extract
1 tsp vanilla 
1 or 2 tablespoons whipping cream 
Crushed peppermints for garnish

  1. Whisk the sugar and butter together in a medium bowl on low speed until blended well.
  2. Increase the speed to medium and beat 3 minutes. 
  3. Add the vanilla and peppermint and cream. Beat 1 more minute.
  4. Frost cookies and garnish with crushed peppermint.

Also it SNOWED!!! It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here.

Saturday, December 07, 2013

Christmas Cookies

One of my favorite Christmas time traditions is cookie baking. This year I am making five family favorites. I try to pick a variety of flavors so that not everything on the plate is the same. The plan: One simple cookie, one citrus flavored, one fruity, one spicy, and one chocolate. The simple cookie I picked was my Aunt Lettie's Powdered Sugar cookies. They are lighter version of shortbread, but have the same sort of simple taste.

Aunt Lettie's Powdered Sugar Cookies

1 cup butter - softened
1 cup powdered sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp soda
2 tsp cream of tartar

  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Cream together butter, powdered sugar, egg and vanilla. 
  3. Combine flour, soda, and cream of tartar in a separate bowl. 
  4. Slowly add flour mixture to the butter mixture a third at a time, combing completely before adding more. 
  5. Roll into tablespoon sized balls and bake for 10-12 minutes. Cookies should be lightly browned on bottom. 
  6. Store in an airtight container after cooled.

Shining Star...

This year's Christmas chalk art was inspired by Have yourself a Merry little Christmas carol. Looks like snow is in the forecast for us here in the Midwest. So excited for snow!

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Christmas Tree Time

It is December! 24 days until Christmas! So off we drove, over the river and through the woods, to Handley's Holiday Hillside for our annual Christmas tree. They had so many beautiful trees, but we went with our usual Canadian Fir. 
Tree is home and all set up in our awesome tree stand. Tomorrow after it has drunk about 5 gallons of water and the branches relax a bit, we will add the lights and decorations. 

Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Polar Express

Today we got on the Polar Express Train and rode all the way from Iowa to the North Pole to see Santa and his elves. It was a long trip, but it was worth it. The train was a wonderful old steam train and had a great loud whistle just like in the story. Riley was super excited to see all the trains and play with the train sets. He also really enjoyed seeing Santa and Santa's pocket watch which had tiny trains running in two directions. He also got a silver bell as a present just like in the movie. Max was a pretty good sport about it and didn't make too much of a fuss about not really going to the North Pole. The Polar Express was a fun start to the Christmas season. Tomorrow we go to get our tree, hopefully we can pick a good one.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Day

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends and family! My Canadian family celebrated on Oct.14th, so we here "state side" are WAY behind. It does feel like we are a watch running a bit slow with Thanksgiving being almost at the end of the month. I think I'm going to have to work like crazy to get everything done before Christmas. This year I decided to try something a bit different and bake a Pumpkin Cheesecake instead of a pie. I always bake my caramel apple pie for my sister Clare, but I found this great recipe on the Sweetest Occasion blog and had to try it. It was amazing! Of course we had all the traditional favorites, casseroles and potatoes, and we all ate more than we should. 

Since we were all together I figured this was a good chance to take some family photos. They turned out pretty well for no planning involved. So in the spirit of today, I would like to say that I am thankful for my wonderful family and I am grateful that we could spend this time together today and everyday.  

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Riley is Four

On Saturday Riley turned 4! When I asked him what kind of party he wanted, he quickly said a doughnut party with lots and lots of sprinkles. To say the least I was excited! Finally a non-cartoon character party theme, and I can definitely work with doughnuts and sprinkles. 
I made the invitation for his party with a simple doughnut picture with lots of sprinkles.
For the party I made some simple party hats with confetti in the shape of a number 4. Brunch menu was many different kinds of doughnuts and even I used doughnut holes dipped in white chocolate and sprinkles for a cake pop like treat.  There were also some not-so-sweet choices, a mixed fruit tray and some cheese and spinach quiches.
For drinks we had white, chocolate, and strawberry milk served in milk bottles with paper straws. The milk bottles were just recycled Starbucks frappe bottles with the labels removed. Basically free and super cute glasses. There was also coffee (for the adults) and hot chocolate with whipped cream and sprinkles (of course!).
The table decorations were made from white powdered sugar doughnuts, with confetti poppers, and thank you gift bags. We also had clear balloons filled with confetti. The birthday "cake" was just doughnuts with white frosting and sprinkles stacked on a cake stand with candles.  
It was a super sweet party for a super sweet boy. Riley is a happy and gentle guy with lots of love for everyone. Four has to be my favorite age.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Day of the Dead / Halloween Recap

Halloween was a bit wet and very cold this year, but we still dressed up and went out Trick or Treating. As today is November first, it's appropriate that we all dressed as skeletons and Day of the Dead costumes.
I really like the whole look of the sugar skulls, and the costume is so simple. Wear black, make a crown of flowers, and paint your face. Jered's costume was just as simple with a black hat, a skull tie and face paint. 
Riley and Max had masks they decorated and colored. (Though Max is not wearing his mask in his photo). 
Basically the whole Trick or Treating went like the photo below, a blur. The kids all had a great time and ate way too much sugar. Hope everyone had a safe and happy Halloween! 

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