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14 posts from December 2010

December 31, 2010

Afghans and movies and Books - Oh my!

I mentioned earlier how spoiled I was this Christmas. I can't believe all of the awesome things I got!

Martha Books & Perfume Set

Martha's Encyclopedia of Crafts, Dinner at Home & Clinique Happy gift set - I love that it comes with the purse sized dual perfume and lip gloss, so perfect!

Custom Playing Cards

Jeff's Mom ordered us this deck of custom playing cards from snap fish. Such a clever idea! The photo is us dressed as Fraggles this past Halloween. Ha-ha.

Hello Kitty Gear

One of my favorite salesmen bought me this Hello Kitty Cake tin and vinyl sticker of Hello Kitty with an AK-47. I spit coffee when I saw it! I can't wait to use them both, but now I have to decide if the sticker should go on my car or on my helmet.

Books, Movies & a Photo

I also landed a photo of myself and my Mom. I'm going to embellish the frame, but I've not decided how yet.

Two Classic Christmas films - I've been watching them all morning.

Two for the Road - A travel eating guide by two of my favorite food critics - Jane & Michael Stern. If you love food you have to check them out. They even host annual week long bus tours traveling the country and stopping at all of their favorite restaurants. One day I'll join them!

Star Wars Cookbook! I didn't even know this existed!

Star Wars Cook Book!

The photos and recipe names alone are hysterical. I will definitely be using this this year.

Gifts from my Aunt and Sister

My sister always comes up with super cute gift ideas and usually includes some hand made items! I got a reusable snack sack and a drawstring travel jewelry organizer. The cute kitchen accessories are from my aunt and will be making an appearance in next years cookie marathon!

Camp Stove & Flashlight

Jeff and I have been talking about collecting some camping gear and camping more this year. I was so excited when he opened this camp stove. It rocks!

X-mas Candy

My Mom always gets us funny candy stocking stuffers. These are this years collection. The penguins facial expression is the best.

And my favorite gift this year...

Hand Crocheted Afgan

Hand crocheted Afghan from my Mom! This Afghan is a long time coming. I'll spare you it's epic history, but I can't get over how much I love it! Elliot and I have been fighting over it since it hit the couch. She won this round.

What were your favorite gifts? Do you have pics posted somewhere? Leave me link I'd love to see them!

December 29, 2010

I'm not going to lie...

My favorite part of Christmas this year was my nephew. It shows in my photos. Aside from one random photo of my sister and her husband they all revolve around Jeret.

Jeret & Favorite Aunt Kali

A few months ago at his birthday party we were moving his hands like a puppet to get him to open his presents. On Christmas, he had it down!

So far the ribbon is winning...

The bows were a little tricky, but he is totally a pro now. So much fun!

Angel Face

Look at that little face, he's the best!

I'll be posting my goals for 2011 soon and one of them is teaching him to call me "Favorite Aunt Kali". Like "Princess of Whales" or "Duchess of York". It should just flow together. This is going to happen. I'm not above bribing.

This Friday will be devoted to shooting and editing photos so be looking for a gift recap over the weekend. I'm also working on a new tutorial and January's giveaway. Here's a closing photo of some new shoes I picked up with one of my gift cards. I LOVE them!

Christmas Shoes!

December 26, 2010

Christmas Cookie Photo Recap

Merry Christmas to everyone I didn't see over the weekend! I hope you had a wonderful holiday!

Here's a quick cookie marathon photo recap:







This year we made:

  • Baileys Fudge
  • Chocolate Mint Sandwiches
  • Double Chocolate Espresso Cookies
  • Peppermint Bark
  • Macaroons
  • Sugar Cookies (Deep Sea Theme)
  • Peanut Butter Kisses
  • Lime Shortbread
  • Butter Crisp Candy
  • Thumbprints
  • Blueberry Turnovers
  • Cranberry Orange Oatmeal
  • Fruit and Nut Chocolate Medallions
  • Chex Mix

Four girls, 8 pounds of butter and 15 hours of flour coated fun. We assembled 17 boxes of cookies to pass out. This is by far one of my favorite Christmas traditions and love being able to share it with family and friends!

I'll have a Christmas recap tomorrow, but right we're anxious to snuggle up with fuzzy Christmas socks to watch our new copy of Inception. So excited!

December 21, 2010


*This is a special post requested by my friends Zach and Allie - Miss you guys!

Homemade Horseshoe!

For those of you not from the midwest, Springfield, IL. to be specific, this is a horseshoe. A full weeks worth of daily recommended calories in one glorious cheese soaked meal. This is not something you can walk away from. It usually results in at least a stagger if not a full on nap.

My horseshoe consists of (bottom to top):
- One slice toasted whole wheat bread
- One grilled veggie patty
- Sauteed mushrooms, tomatoes, red peppers and red onions
- Baked french fries
- Cheese sauce from scratch

You can replace the veggie patty with any meat you can think of from ham to barbecued chicken. Back home I usually replace it with tomato and egg. Yum!

Here is the recipe I came up with for my cheese sauce. It was really pretty good...

  • 5 T Butter (I know...I know it only gets worse but it's well worth the extra jog!)
  • 5 T Flour
  • 2 c Shredded Sharp Cheddar
  • 2-3 c Milk
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/2 t ground pepper
  • Cayenne pepper to taste
  • Paprika for color

Melt the butter in a large sauté pan and add flour when it starts to bubble. Cook until flour loses its raw smell and just starts to lightly brown - about 2-3 min.

Slowly start adding milk in small quantities, thoroughly whisking after each addition. If you've not made a roux before this step is scary. The second the milk hits the pan the flour soaks it all up and leaves it looking curdled and lumpy. Have faith - keep whisking and add a little more milk. Start with just two cups, but if it seems thick add more to taste.

Sprinkle in cheese one hand full at a time, stirring to combine before adding more.

Season with salt, pepper, Cayenne and paprika to taste. Serve immediately.

This is not a meal I make frequently, but in my opinion there is no finer comfort food.

December 16, 2010

That's Awesome! - Holiday Edition!

Top five gingerbread houses that currently inspire or amuse me:

1. Super Mario DS Whoa! Close ups available in the link.


NYC - Bronx - New York Botanical Garden: Gingerbread Adventures

3. Space station!

4. Sorting hat gingerbread.

nightmare before christmas gingerbread Pictures, Images and Photos

5. Nightmare Before Christmas house!

I'm not making a gingerbread house this year, but Sunday is my annual cookie marathon baking day. For the past few years my cousin Ginny has been joining me in the madness. This year we've brought in a few friends as well. Which is awesome because with 15 different types of cookies we'll need them! Be expecting a cookie post in the near future.

December 15, 2010

Bento #9

Mushroom Udon Bento

Bento #8

It doesn't feel like we have Udon in the house all that often, but it's one of my favorite bentos to pack. We make it to the Asian food market about once a month and I always pick up a few packs. Think ramen, but with thick chewy noodles.

Bento #9

I always prepare this with a table salad. Traditionally this is just a huge plate of little things to add to your soup and everyone at the table picks their choice of toppings from the plate to add to their bowls. Today mine consisted of:

  • Shitake Mushrooms
  • Cilantro
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Quail Eggs
  • Enoki Mushrooms
  • Green Onions
  • Fried Tofu
  • Red Pepper Flakes

Bento #9

After you've added the items from your table salad they will cook a tiny bit in the broth. Everything gets warm, but it retains it's fresh crispness. This is a filling lunch for sure, but the broth base keeps it from being a heavy meal. The Hello Kitty is a furikake dispenser that I got from my Mom last Christmas. I used it today to hold the red pepper flakes.

*Side note: I spotted this while we were at the Asian food store:

Crunk Up!

It made me giggle. :)

December 10, 2010

December Giveaway Winner!

Since it's the season of giving I've decided to chose two winners!

The randomly selected comment numbers were 4 & 9. Congrats Derritas & Heidi! Email me at kali@kalidarling.com with the two ornaments you would like and your mailing addresses!

We are in Kentucky this weekend visiting Jeff's brand new nephew. I snapped this at a truck stop on the way down.


A happy sasquatch is a good sasquatch.

December 09, 2010

Bate, bate Chocolate!

I have absolutely loved reading about all of your holiday decorations in my giveaway contest comments! Evey thing sounds so pretty, I wish I could see them all. If you haven't had the chance to enter, there is one day left. Just post a comment here.

This time of year my beverage of choice is hot chocolate. I LOVE it! If I see a new variety in the store I can't pass it up. Over the years I've become quite the connoisseur, but I have a few favorites that I tend to rely on. One of my absolute favorites is Mexican hot chocolate.

For those of you who were not blessed with your own Mexican grandmother, I will share a little bit about mine. She was amazing.


Standing at a tiny 4'11" inches tall she was strong, independent, opinionated and a terror on wheels. The little old lady from Pasadena would have been left in her wake. Some of my favorite memories of my grandmother (Abuelita in spanish - Ita for short) are in her kitchen. She was an incredible cook and we spent hours in the kitchen cooking everything from molé and enchiladas to atolé and mexican hot chocolate.

I usually keep bricks of Mexican chocolate on hand for sauces and baking (it makes a mean chocolate cupcake), but was recently blown away when I found it in a syrup form. The bricks can be used for hot chocolate, but each brick makes four cups at a time - kind of a lot. The syrup allows for individual servings and I have been using it like mad!


If you've not tried it before I strongly suggest you give it a shot! You can find it in the global foods section of your grocery store or, if you're lucky enough to have one, at your local mexican grocery. It's rich and chocolaty without being too sweet and it has a little spice kick like regular cinnamon powder blended with a little red hot cinnamon flavor and maybe a little cayenne. The spiciness is really very mild and I think just makes anything you add it to more flavorful.

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Here's how I make it:

16 oz. Milk

2 T. Abuelita Syrup

1 t. Cocoa Powder

Whisk together over medium low heat until frothy and just starting to boil. Remove from heat and add sugar to taste (I usually add about a teaspoon).

It is magical! It even has it's own song:

Bate, bate, chocolate,

Stir, stir, chocolate,

tu nariz de cacahuate.

your nose is a peanut.

Uno, dos, tres, CHO!

One, two, three, CHO!

Uno, dos, tres, CO!

One, two, three, CO!

Uno, dos, tres, LA!

One, two, three, LA!

Uno, dos, tres, TE!

One, two, three, TE!

Chocolate, chocolate!

Chocolate, chocolate!

Bate, bate, chocolate!

Stir, stir, the chocolate!

Bate, bate, bate, bate,

Stir, stir, stir, stir,

Bate, bate, CHOCOLATE!

Stir, stir, CHOCOLATE!

December 07, 2010

Bento #8

Bento #8


  • Soy glazed carrots & tofu
  • Steamed rice
  • Steamed broccoli, red pepper & snow peas

This was awesome! Recipe originally from Everyday Food. The rice wine vinegar and toasted sesame oil add a tanginess to the marinade that pairs perfectly with the sweetness of the carrots. We used tofu but I bet this would be great with chicken too!

Tree Reveal & Giveaway!

Oh my goodness... this has been a crazy weekend. So much happened. Some good, some bad overall it just kept me really busy. I've just finished editing the photos. I apologize for the delay, but I am no less excited to show what I've been working on. I still have a few finishing touches to decorate the tree area, but this is my tree:

Deep Sea Tree!










The angler tree topper is my favorite! I modified this pattern by Sommer to fit my needs. All of the rest of the patterns were my own. This was my first time experimenting with fabric dye and I definitely learned some lessons, but I also see my self using it a lot more in the future.

I bought all of the picks the day after Thanksgiving. They remind me of coral and bubbles. It was a killer sale. All 50% off before I used my 30% off your entire purchase coupon. Most of them cost less than a quarter each. Awesome!

I am so excited to see it up and finished now I want to wrap all of my gifts and display them!

Speaking of gifts... Who's ready for a giveaway?!?

This giveaway is directly linked to my tree madness. I will be giving away two ornaments - winners choice - along with a button and sticker pack. I want the winner to be able to enjoy their ornaments for as long as they can this season so I will be shortening the length of the giveaway.

To enter just sign your name in a comment and let me know if you decorated with a theme this year. For a bonus entry tweet a link to my giveaway or post a link on your blog. (Make sure you post an additional comment here letting me know so you get your bonus entry!) The winner will be randomly selected Friday night (Dec.12th) at 6pm. You can enter once per day between now and Friday to increase your chances. Good Luck!

*You are asked to enter your email address when you comment. This is only so I can reach you if you win. I do NOT send out mass mailings!