Maybe Matilda

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Smells of Christmas, Old and New

A few weeks ago, my mom asked if I'd like to come rifle through her dozens of boxes of Christmas decorations to choose some things I'd like to use this year.

Free Christmas decorations? Don't have to ask me twice.

We had such a fun afternoon together, digging through her chilly old barn (while the kids whined and complained about the cold--never mind that part), uncovering newer decorations I barely recall seeing and older ones I'd almost forgotten about.

I brought home two big boxes full of sparkly new Christmas decorations--glitzy glass ornaments, rustic baskets, glittery snowmen--and a few of my childhood favorites, too, decorations I'd almost forgotten about, but seeing them again brought back so many childhood memories. And although they aren't the trendiest, most modern decorations, it just feels more like Christmas to have them in my house.

I'd be hard-pressed to recall any childhood Christmas memories that didn't include these wooden Santas. When I was really little, my mom loved craft painting, and one of my favorites of her projects was this group of Santas. They're a little worse for wear now after 20ish years of use--overzealous children have broken a star on one Santa's hat and lost the pieces the Santas on each end once held--but they were brought out religiously every Christmas. I'm so excited to have them in front of my fireplace this year.


Childhood chrismas decorations

And this Christmas countdown--just looking at it, I can almost smell the pumpkin bread my mom would make all winter, and cider simmering on the stove. I can remember arguing with my siblings over who would get to turn over a Christmas light on the tree each day as we counted down to Christmas. And no joke, Forrest asked me on the day after Halloween if we could start a Christmas countdown, so of course I couldn't leave this sitting in the barn. It made its way home with me, and Forrest is thrilled about flipping over a light each day.

I grabbed a few newer decorations too, and I nestled a Glade® Under the Mistletoe candle among them--I've mentioned in other posts that one of the highlights of each new season/holiday for me is choosing new scents to fill my home with, and Christmas is the very best time for scents. Just smelling my mom's pumpkin bread, or real, spicy apple cider, or a fresh-cut Christmas tree, is enough to bring back so many Christmas memories.

When I was a kid, we lived on a quiet, windy street in rural New York. And just up our street, two houses away from us, was a little Christmas tree farm. Every year, we'd visit our neighbors at their tree farm and spend an afternoon choosing and cutting down the perfect tree. It's one of my favorite holiday memories--bundling up in our coats and mittens, the crisp, cold air on our cheeks, the crunch of snow under our boots as we hunted down our tree, and the mingled smells of the cider our neighbors handed out to shoppers with the fresh tree scent.


Glade under the mistletoe candle

Sadly, we haven't carried on the tree tradition with our kids . . . yet. We've made do with our artificial tree each year, but I hope there are fresh trees in our future. And until then, this Under the Mistletoe scent will make up for the lack of a fresh tree in our home. It's the perfect blend of that fresh pine scent and holiday berry sweetness. As soon as I smelled it, I felt like I was back at my old neighbors' tree farm. And I'm so glad I was able to bring that memory home with me.

If you need some holiday scent memory-making goodness in your house this season, check out this Cartwheel offer to save some money at Target on the Glade® Limited Edition Winter Collection! May I humbly recommend Under the Mistletoe (available exclusively at Target)? It just smells like Christmas.

What's your favorite scent of the season?

Celebrate the season with festive fragrances from Glade®. Spread holiday magic through the town with the scent of bright holly berries and fresh pine garland, featured in Target’s exclusive scent, Under the Mistletoe.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Glade®. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Friday, December 19, 2014

Dare to Deck the Halls Features

Wipe those tears, my friends, Dare to DIY 2014 is over but it was beautiful while it lasted.

As always, it was a delight to peek through all the projects that joined in our Dare to Deck the Halls linkup this week at Newly Woodwards. I wanted to share a few of my favorite projects—swing by Shift Ctrl Art, Décor and the Dog, and Newly Woodwards to see their features, too!

Love these festive and fun Ho Ho Ho throw pillows, created over at Interiors by Kenz.

HO Ho HO DIY throw pillows

And this DIY Deer Mount Advent Calendar by Primitive and Proper is so unique and exciting:

DIY Deer Mount Advent Calendar

Thanks so much to everyone who joined in! I love being a part of Dare to DIY, and I’m so glad to see there are so many participants who love joining in, too!

I hope you picked up some inspiration and ideas for things you can do to brighten your holiday season. See you next year, folks.

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Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Rich and Creamy Rice Pudding

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Silk Cashewmilk. All opinions are my own.

Despite years of cooking, I have not yet figured out the amount of rice my family will eat with dinner. If you were to peek into my fridge at any given time, I can almost guarantee you’d find at least one container of leftover rice in there.

So when I read the Smitten Kitchen Cookbook recently (short + sweet review HERE), I was intrigued by her version of rice pudding in which she replaced regular milk with 3 different milks for extra richness and flavor (if I remember correctly [and I might not], she used coconut milk, sweetened condensed milk, and evaporated milk). Sounded to me like a fun twist on rice pudding, and I intended to make it, but the book came due at the library before I had a chance to try it out.

I was invited to try new Silk Cashewmilk recently, so I thought I’d take a page from Smitten Kitchen and use the cashew milk, along with canned coconut milk, to turn some of my leftover rice into rice pudding.

The results were the smoothest, creamiest, richest rice pudding I’ve ever made, with an awesome little hint of coconut and cashew flavor.

Rich and Creamy Rice Pudding (made with coconut milk and Silk Cashewmilk!)

It’s a lightly sweet pudding, which I think makes it perfect for a warm winter breakfast or afternoon snack. If you want it to be a full-on sweet dessert, you may want to play with the amount of sugar to pump it up.

Rich and Creamy Rice Pudding (made with coconut milk and Silk Cashewmilk!)

Rich and Creamy Rice Pudding
adapted from Rachael Ray, inspired by Smitten Kitchen

2 cups cooked white rice (leftover rice will do very nicely)
1 (13.5 ounce) can coconut milk (measures out to 1 3/4 cups)
1 1/4 cups Original Silk Cashewmilk
1/3 cup white sugar
generous pinch of ground cinnamon
generous pinch of salt

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine all ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the pudding has thickened.

If desired, serve sprinkled with cinnamon, toasted coconut flakes, and/or chopped cashews.

Rich and creamy rice pudding made with new Silk Cashewmilk

And in case you are curious what we thought of the cashew milk, I will leave it at this: the folks at Silk mailed me 2 half gallons to use for this post. We drank them so quickly that I had to go out and buy more to use for this recipe. Which we again polished off before I could use them for this post, and I had to buy even more. We drank 5—I’m not kidding, FIVE—cartons of cashew milk in the making of this post. Needless to say, we enjoy it all on its own, even when it isn’t involved in a creamy rice pudding.

Sign up for the Silk eNewsletter to get the latest news and an instant coupon, and tell them what you think of new Cashewmilk on the Silk facebook page! Be sure to check out the Silk Cashewmilk Pinterest board for more tasty ideas, swaps, and recipe inspiration.

 

 

This conversation is sponsored by Silk. The opinions and text are all mine.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Merry and Bright Blocks (Dare to Deck the Halls)

Here we are at our final week of Dare to DIY 2014! This week’s theme is Dare to Deck the Halls--make sure to hop over to Newly Woodwards today to share YOUR handmade holiday décor, and visit cohosts Décor and the Dog and Shift Ctrl Art to see their projects, too!

I always start the Christmas season with all sorts of grand decorating ideas. And every year, reality sets in before I even take a single step forward, and I realize I don’t have the time or the money or the energy to make all my big dreams happen. So we generally keep things pretty simple around here for Christmas. That works fine for me.

A week or two ago, my sister Bekah and I got together to do some Christmas crafts (thankfully, it went better than our Halloween craft day). We each did a spin on a ‘merry & bright’ decoration. Bekah’s project actually came out way, way cuter than mine, but I don’t have pictures of hers, so you’re stuck with my version of merry & bright today. I’ll see if I can take some pictures of her sign to show you this week. It’s adorable.

Gold and White Merry and Bright stacking blocks

I found these two pieces of scrap wood in my garage, and thought they’d work perfectly to recreate this pin. I wanted to include a some gold in my Christmas decorating this year, so I started by painting one block white, and spray painting the other gold.

Gold and White 'Merry & Bright' stacking block sign

I used my Silhouette Portrait to cut the words out of vinyl, then transferred them to my blocks to use as a template. I used the gold spray paint to fill in the word ‘merry’ on the white block, and sponged white paint over the word ‘bright’ on my gold block.

Gold and White 'Merry & Bright' stacking block sign

After letting them dry (probably not long enough, actually—I suffer from a serious lack of craft patience), I went over them lightly with some sandpaper to give them a vintage look. And to hide the spots where I messed up. Distressing does wonders for hiding craft oopsies.

It adds a little glitz to my shelves for Christmas. Merry and bright, indeed.

Gold and White 'Merry & Bright' stacking block sign

Stone fireplace painted white, dressed up for Christmas.

Can’t wait to see what YOU made this year to deck your halls! Hop over to Newly Woodwards and add your project to the linkup!

Dare to Deck The Halls

Christmas Tree Wall Art by NewlyWoodwards // Merry & Bright Blocks by Maybe Matilda
Christmas Trees Sign by Décor and the Dog // DIY Mini Tree by Shift Ctrl Art

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Give Handmade Features + Weekly Recap

Thanks to everyone who joined the Dare to Give Handmade linkup on Monday! I picked up (stole) quite a few great ideas for Christmas gifts to make and give this year.

Two of my favorite projects—I love Cindy’s trendy, easy to make DIY Tassel Bracelet (Made 2 Style):

DIY Tassel Bracelet

She has lots of other lovely jewelry tutorials on her blog as well!

And I also love this DIY 2015 Calendar—so unique and fun. Find the how-to at Inside the Fox Den:

DIY 2015 Calendar

Don’t forget to join us Monday, December 15th for our final week of Dare to DIY! The theme is Dare to Deck the Halls. Come to NewlyWoodwards to join the linkup bright and early Monday morning!

Daretodiy2014

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As for us over here at Casa Brown, this week was considerably merrier and brighter than last, and thanks for the commiseration on last week’s whining.

After spending a week and a half being desperately clingy and whiny and suffering nervous breakdowns if I wasn’t touching her at all times, Darcy finally regained a little independence mid-week. And although this picture, I just realized, doesn’t actually demonstrate any independence since she is still, in fact, clinging tightly to my body, at least she’s smiling about it instead of crying and drooling in my face like last week. As I type this, she’s actually playing. On her own. On the ground. Without requiring constant interaction. It’s a Christmas miracle.

www.maybematilda.com

Despite the recovery—both in health and clinginess—she and Forrest still spent a lot of time on the couch this week. An actual question: you know those moms who don’t allow their kids to watch TV? In all seriousness: what do you do when your kids are sick and whiny and grouchy, if they aren’t staring zombie-like at the TV? Because in our house, grouchy sickies pretty much get a free pass for all-day media consumption. I’m not saying it’s a good way to parent . . . but I can only handle so much whining.

www.maybematilda.com

And I’ll wrap things up with Forrozt, who wrote his name all by himself this week for the first time. After a slightly rocky start, he loves preschool, and it seems to be loving him back. I think we both regret signing up for the 2 day per week class instead of the 3 day per week class. Lesson learned for next year.

www.maybematilda.com

Have a great weekend, and I’ll see you Monday at Newly Woodwards!

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Wednesday, December 10, 2014

(Im)Perfect Christmas PJ Photography 101

If you’re visiting today in hopes of finding a photography lesson on capturing the perfect Christmas pictures of your sweet children . . .

Joe Boxer pajamas at Kmart

Tracking Pixel

. . . you’ve obviously come to the right place.

For this sponsored post today, brought to you by Joe Boxer, I’d love to share with you our festive, yearly family tradition of giving and receiving new pajamas for Christmas . . . and totally botching the photo op.

Make sure to start out with children who are only semi-willing to participate, at best. Children who are flat-out opposed to your photography endeavors would, of course, be ideal for catastrophic photography failure.

A nice mix of attitudes, in my experience, is having one child who is focused so intently on going to visit Santa after taking pictures that he must be reassured every 3-5 seconds that yes, we are going to see Santa soon and no, we have not forgotten about going to see Santa, combined with a second child who has spent the past week or so regressing so deeply back into her completely dependent newborn clinginess that she suffers a total mental meltdown if physical contact with her mother is broken.

Joe Boxer pajamas from Kmart

Also, you may think wrapped gifts will make nice props in your photos. It’s a nice thought and I applaud you for thinking creatively here, but the two possible outcomes are 1) the children become so distracted by the presents that they can hardly continue taking photos for being so desperate to find out what is inside or 2) the boxes will immediately be placed directly in front of one child’s face. Which is fine as long as the box is the thing you are most eager to capture and immortalize. I’m sure the box’s grandparents want a picture of it in front of the Christmas tree this year, too.

Maybe they just need better coaching, you say? Surely if given clearer directions, I could get a few keepers?

Good thoughts. ‘Hug your sister!’ quickly escalates into full-body tackling, followed by an adorable wrestling match and lots of angry squealing from the littlest piglet. It makes for nice photography—snap fast so you don’t miss a moment!

Joe Boxer pajamas from Kmart

Forced cuddly poses yield similar, if slightly blurrier, results.

Joe Boxer pajamas from Kmart

This is a good point to bring in mom and dad. Dad will be predictably grouchy about being asked to participate in family photos, and will offer only the most awkward and unconvincing of smiles. Just another small step toward family photo perfection.  At least he hasn’t resorted to trying to gouge out his own eyeball to get out of family photos, like your precious tiny munchkin.

Joe Boxer pajamas from Kmart

You may, surprisingly, end up with a few decent shots if you give up on trying to force things and just let the day devolve into madness. Candids are the most true to life and memorable anyway, right?

Joe Boxer pajamas from Kmart

Joe Boxer pajamas from Kmart

Joe Boxer pajamas from Kmart

Do you do the Christmas pajamas tradition in your house, too? I think it’s so fun. When I was a kid, getting socks for Christmas became so predictable and so weirdly funny that it turned into a major holiday tradition—both of my kids’ first gift ever from their grandparents was socks, and the socks from Grandma and Grandpa are always the first presents we open each year. So it’s been fun to carry on the sock tradition with our kids and build on it with a new pair of cute pajamas every Christmas, too.

If you love giving your kids or spouse new jammies every Christmas, you ought to check out Joe Boxer pajamas from Kmart. Huge selection (to the point that I ended up carrying around 2 or 3 pairs for each family member while I shopped, and had a hard time narrowing thing down), and they offer so many fun patterns and prints. They’d make such a fun, memorable Christmas gift and really, Christmas just isn’t complete without a new pair of pajamas.

In case you need a smile today:

 

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Joe Boxer available at Kmart.

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Monday, December 8, 2014

Dare to Give Handmade Link Up and Double Pom Pom Hat Pattern

Welcome to my favorite week of Dare to DIY: Dare to Give Handmade! Today’s link up is right here at Maybe Matilda, so don’t forget to add YOUR handmade project. Make sure also to visit my cohosts, Newly Woodwards, Décor and the Dog, and Shift Ctrl Art, to see their lovely work. I wouldn’t complain about receiving a single one of their awesome gifts this Christmas.

For my handmade gift, I crocheted a darling little double pom pom hat for Darcy. Because if 1 pom pom is adorable, 2 pom poms are so cute it could kill you.

Free crochet pattern to make this adorable double pom pom hat!

Are you dead?

I’ve been particularly loving big, chunky, thick hats for my kids this year, and I wanted to come up with something kind of silly and fun for Darcy to wear. You could, of course, use a bulky weight yarn to crochet this hat. I almost never have bulky yarn just lying around, but I always have quite a supply of worsted weight, so I crocheted this hat with 2 strands Red Heart super saver variegated yarn. The label was lost long ago, but I believe the name was Wildflower. I don’t use variegated yarns often, but that may change, considering how much I love how this hat turned out. I think this style is darling on babies and kids of any age, and would even be fun for an adult . . . with a sense of humor :-)

Free crochet pattern to make this adorable double pom pom hat!

As with many of my crochet tutorials that I post here, this is more of a ‘guide’ than a strict pattern. It can be adapted to any size and is wildly forgiving, and I’m not including specific stitch counts because it is so easy to change to whatever size you decide to make it.

All you’ll need to know in order to size it properly for the person you’re gifting to is their head size. And since you may not have all your friends’ head measurements memorized, I’d recommend you visit THIS LINK for a hat size chart based on age.

Also, please don’t be afraid of the foundation single crochet that I use to start this hat. It isn’t difficult, and it offers SO much more stretch than the traditional starting chain, which is perfect for a project like this where we start with the brim and work our way up. Stretchy brims are definitely a good thing.

Double Pom Pom Hat

Materials:
- bulky weight yarn or 2 strands of worsted weight yarn (I can’t give much detail on how much yarn you’ll need—it will depend on the hat size you make—but for the pictured hat made for a 1-year old baby, I used almost 1 full skein of Red Heart Super Saver.)
- K hook (10 mm)
- blunt large-eye needle for sewing tails in
- optional: pom pom maker (I love this Clover set—worth every penny)

Abbreviations:
fsc = foundation single crochet
dc = double crochet
sl st = slip stitch
fpdc = front post double crochet
bpdc = back post double crochet
ch = chain

Notes:
Hat is worked from brim up. Do not turn your work at the end of each row. The finished hat will be roughly square shaped, with 2 pointed corners at the top, where you will place your pom poms. Leave a long yarn tail at the end of your work to sew the top of the hat closed.

1) Start with a row of fsc long enough to reach easily around the head of the person you’re crocheting for. Visit THIS page for average head sizes. So if you are making this hat for, say, a 9-month old baby, work fsc until your piece measures about 18 inches in length.

Sl st to join your work in a loop (make sure the loop is flat and has not twisted!).

2) Ch 2,  dc in each stitch around. Join with sl st to top of starting ch.

3) Ch 2, *fpdc in next stitch, bpdc in next stitch. Repeat from * around. Join with sl st to top of starting ch.

4) Repeat row 3, working fpdc in each fpdc of previous row and bpdc in each bpdc of previous row.

5) Ch 2, dc around in back loop only of each stitch. Join with sl st to top of starting ch.

6) Ch 2, dc around. Join with sl st to top of starting ch.

7-?) Repeat row 6 until desired hat ‘height’ is reached. Visit THIS page for hat height suggestions based on age. Add roughly 2 inches to suggested hat heights, since this style is meant to sit high on the head and fit loosely. Fasten off when desired height is reached, leaving long yarn tail.

Use ending yarn tail to stitch the top of the hat closed. Simply lay the hat flat with the seam centered in the back, and sew back and forth with the ending yarn tail to create a long, flat seam. The hat will look square. Sew in all yarn tails.

Using a pom pom maker, make 2 large pom poms. Sew pom poms to top corners of hat.

Free crochet pattern to make this adorable pom pom hat!

As with all patterns/tutorials from my site, feel free to make some, give some, sell some! Just please include a link back to my site as your pattern source if you decide to sell online :-)

Check out my cohosts’ awesome handmade gifts:

Dare to Give Handmade gifts

Pom Pom Hat by Maybe Matilda // Homemade Candy with Ombre Dyed gift bags by Shift Ctrl Art // Crochet Tote by Newly Woodwards // Stovetop Potpourri by Décor and the Dog

I can’t wait to see YOUR handmade gifts! What have you created to give as gifts this Christmas? Link your projects below! Please remember to link back to one of the Dare to DIY cohosts—Décor and the Dog, Newly Woodwards, me, and Shift Ctrl Art :-)

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Friday, December 5, 2014

Dare to Entertain Features

This week has blown chunks, and I mean that in every possible sense of that tasteful phrase. Forrest and I both started out sick--we’re on the mend now, but there has still been so much whining and coughing and crying and complaining, day in and day out, all week long. And even little Miss Buttercup, who somehow escaped the death blaze of our communal germs, has been off her usual cheerful game, insisting upon being carried and held constantly. She must be in my arms or on my lap every moment of every day, and while the snuggles started out sweet, it’s beginning to grate after 5 straight days. 

I’m so tired and so frustrated, and I’ve hit that point—even if I’m the only mom who feels this way, please hide your horror and disgust and pretend you know what I’m talking about—where I wonder why, exactly, I had children, and what about this looked appealing 5 years ago when I tossed out my birth control, and where is the returns office and where can I find a copy of the refund policy?

Don’t call CPS. I’ll snap out of it sooner or later. I’ve always been inclined to a little self-indulgent melodrama.

I could go on whining for paragraphs and paragraphs more, you know I could, but I’m sure the other Dare to DIY cohosts aren’t planning on mentioning their puking children or parenting qualms or imaginary runaway plans in their posts today, so I’ll move on.

There were some lovely projects in this week’s link-up (which was hosted by Décor and the Dog)—lots of delicious-looking recipes perfect for parties, beautiful centerpieces to gather around, and more. Make sure to visit NewlyWoodwards, Shift Ctrl Art, and Décor and the Dog to see their favorite projects from the week.

Advent Calendar Tree Centerpiece from Love Your Home

Printable Thanksgiving Place Cards from The House Made Home

Treat Yo Self Printable Art from For My Love Of

Thanks to everyone who joined in! It’s always so fun to see your take on the theme, and the projects that kept you busy each week.

Speaking of themes, next week’s is Dare to Give Handmade and the link party will be RIGHT HERE at Maybe Matilda on Monday! I really hope you’ll join in with your handmade gifts . . . partly because of, you know, the joy of link parties and sharing your work and all, and partly because I am hosting and don’t want to be embarrassed if no one links up on my week to be in charge. So work on those handmade gifts this weekend and come back Monday to post them, okay?

This is where I’d post a sneak peek of my ‘give handmade’ project if I had one. I haven’t started. But I have an idea. I’ll get there.

Peace out, and happy weekend folks. May your days be germ- and whine-free, and may your parenting (where applicable) be blissful and unregretful.

Daretodiy2014

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