diy christmas recipes : delicious cream cheese dip for parties


With Christmas just around the corner a lot of us are in need of some simple eats ands treats for those last minute guests and late night boozy munchies.
I am here to tell you that if you have 55 minutes and a box of crackers you can feed those people and do it in style.

cream cheese holiday spread

Here’s your Fridge list:
Cream Cheese
Frozen mixed berries
Nuts (or your nutty uncle Ted, your choice)
1 Head of Garlic

Your tool List:
An oven
A Mixing Bowl
Pretty Bowls for Serving
A spoon
Iron fists for nut crushing

  • First things first, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Now, take that head of garlic : unpeeled, and throw it in a shallow oven safe bowl or pan, and drizzle it with olive oil. Put it in the oven with a timer set for 35 minutes.
  • Next, grab your cream cheese and set it out to come to room temp.
  • Now, separate your cream cheese into two parts and add one part to your mixing bowl. Grab those frozen mixed berries and add a few spoonfuls about 7 to 10 small berries to the cream cheese.
  • Grab a handful of nuts, I’m from the south so I think pecans taste great on everything, crush them with your iron fists. Or you can put them in a plastic baggie and use a spoon to smash them, your choice.
  • Now it’s time to stir, because this is such a small serving I don’t use my stand mixer, just a spoon, but if you’d rather you can of course use your stand mixer or just any ol’ mixer!
  • Now plop that delicious cheesy spread into a lovely bowl and wait on that timer to go off. Now, those cloves of garlic are going to be super hot so let them rest till cool. This can take upwards from ten to twenty minutes.
  • Once cooled,simply grab the top of the skin of the garlic clove, give it a good little pull and that clove should just slide right out.
  • Throw those cloves right on top of your softened cream cheese and give them a good smashing with your spoon. Crumble some more nuts, give it a few good stirs.
  • IMGP7030

    And there you have it. Delicious and easy cheesy spreads for the holiday munchies. Best part about it is they are great for breakfast too!

    Merry Christmas y’all!

    Earth Day Whiskey Apple Pie


    On Monday my lovely friend Daphne paid me a visit. She’s just graduated from university and is going home for the summer, so it will be the last we’ll see of each other for a little while. In honor of Earth day we decided to make some homemade pies. The original plan was to bake a  smorgasbord of pies for a five course meal, but in the spirit of conservation we decided to make just one apple pie and one pizza pie.

    After some searching around I found what sounded like the most delicious apple pie ever, Whiskey Apple Pie, and we just happened to have a mickey of Jameson lying around so it was fate. I used this recipe for the pie and this one for the crust, as we ended up having a lot less butter than the other recipe called for, but of course this southern lady had some shortening in the cupboard.

    Sorry for this not so great photo. The sun was setting and I am still learning low light photography.

    The filling recipe was so good, only it really didn’t have a whiskey flavor. Even after we doubled the amount of whiskey. Whoa, we’re so crazy. It was a little disappointing, but seriously, we had homemade apple pie so it really wasn’t that disappointing. I mean, come on, who can be sad when there is apple pie in the room?

    The next time I bake this I will try soaking the fruit filling in the whiskey over night as I am sure that will really infuse the apples with that rich whiskey flavor I crave. Until then, apple pie is bomb and I wish I could eat it every day for every meal I love it that much. So good.

    Happy Earthday!

    Do you do a lot of baking? Ever bake pies? I’d love to hear your pie stories.


    Community Garden Plot

    the garden

    On Sunday I went and visited my community garden plot for the first time. They were hosting a new comer’s orientation for the small group of us in our first year at the garden. They walked us through the beds, some teeming with tiny sprouts already, while others still ragged from the season past. They introduced us to the newly planted fruit trees, the plots full of berry bushes and herbs, and showed us the community plot, where we collectively grow herbs for local non-profits like Martha’s Table and Grow a Row Kingston.


    | | | Dried oregano  flowers left over from the previous tenants in my plot.
    | | | Someone already has some pretty little onions popping up.
    | | | The pretty water spicket on the side of the building. Come summer, we’ll have a pretty complex little system set up to water all the way across the lot.

    Here she is all covered in last years deserted remains.  I’ve decided to call her Gardenia after my favorite southern flowers.

    The lot is big and beautiful. It’s part of a community outreach program with Utilities Kingston, our local provider. They own the property, provide the water, and ask in exchange that we maintain the lot and keep up with the low maintenance flower beds surrounding the utilities out post building itself, improving it’s community image. I am proud to be apart of such a cool program.


    I really can’t tell you how excited I am to have a a space so close by to my apartment for growing and nurturing beautiful and delicious plants that will benefit me as much as they benefit the planet!! All day and all night I am dreaming of the lovely plants I will be transplanting in June. This week I am clearing out and preparing to sow in some lettuces and leeks!

    I also found some lovely thyme(?) in someone’s bed.

    A gorgeous mossy patch on the shady side of the building. I imagine this will be a great spot for escaping the sun on hot summer days.

    Do you garden? As a beginner I’d love to know your thoughts, tips, tricks, and tried true lessons learned. Happy Earthday! I celebrated by baking an apple pie with a friend. What did tyou and yours do to celebrate Earthday?

    Weekly Roundup – Friday Favorites #02


    | | | This photo that I took on Dinosaur Ridge while in Denver last week. I hate that I didn’t have my polarized filter because the sky is blown out, I had to play with the contrast, but I quite love how it came out and despite the white sky, I still love this photo.

    | | | Lets start with some music. I found this band some time last year and they quickly became one of my favorites, but some how after the New Year I lost my habit of daily playlist listening and organizing (I am constantly shifting my online streaming collection around, building bigger and better playlists for all my moods. Well this week I was able to start that hobby/habit back up again and was so happy to hear this song come across my mix.  It’s the perfect song for spring’s arrival, I love it. Also how cool is it that they are from Costa Rica? I want to be from Costa Rica. Hah. Let’s hope this grooveshark embed works. Cross your fingers!

    | | | This tutorial from Design Love Fest has me wanting to washi tape every chord in my house.


    | | | This beautiful DIY comes from the lovely Kelli Murray’s blog. Gorgeous.

    littleblack dress

    | | | I am on the hunt for a new summer little black dress and I really love this one from LuLu’s. Maybe I can manipulate my Built by Wendy Dirndl Pattern, it just figuring out that wrap top really, but that seems a little difficult.

    mushroom tart
    | | | Some friends and I are putting together a multi-course meal made entirely of pie this weekend and I have found some seriously amazing savory pies on Martha Stewart. I am actually loving the idea of tarts. We might just have to make it a tart day instead.

    | | | Last week when I was in Denver I tried these amazing mushroom and quinoa, vegan meatless meat balls at City O’ City. They blew my mind and I have been searching for something similar. I found and tried this recipe this week. It was close, but the texture wasn’t right and maybe City O’ City’s is more mushroomy and herby, although, this was a great place to start. I omitted breadcrumbs, cheese and used ground flax seed as an egg replacer, but my meatless balls were pretty crumbly so this is something I will have to work on.
    | | | This incredible video of water on a wash cloth in Space! Man I love space. Haha

    | | | This love ly little Etsy shop, I Make It You Make It. It’s full of adorable vintage inspired patterns for downloading printing to make at home.

    | | | This book, Denver on Foot, 30 walking tours of the city, saved my life in Denver. Well not really my life, but saved my budget and saved me from getting lost. It’s full of short little walks for seeing the sites around Denver. It was the best purchase I ever made and I hope there  are more people writing books like these for their town. I had all this free time with out a car during the day and so I would just pick a walk and get to it. Best part about it, I bought it for $9.99 through my Kindle app on my tablet.

    | | | There is also 15 household uses for mint from Apartment Therapy.

    I leave you with one more Denver photo. This was taken at about 5:30 am Mountain time through a rooftop fence. Also I didn’t enhance it at all. Gorgeous Denver sunrise.



    Favorite places and sacred spaces





    While I was away in Georgia, the hubs bought us our first DSLR camera the Pentax K-r. He works at camera shop so he was able to test out a lot of cameras from different years, with different features and different price ranges.

    We’ve always been Pentax fans. I still carry and use my Dad’s Pentax from the 70s, it’s my baby and one of my most prized possessions and the hubs also has a manual Pentax that he loves using as well.

    So since I’ve been home I have been practicing taking pictures with the new bad boy and I wanted to share a few from last week. Each week I am trying to do a session with both people and objects separately of each other. I am using myself as the people model and my house and my snacks and meals as the stuff models. It’s pretty fulfilling and I am already seeing improvements every time I use the camera under a different setting.

    I tried to make each shot interesting enough to stand on its own, I think the only one that doesn’t is the lavender, but I still like that photo for some reason. This should be a great project to help me watch my photography improve.

    Happy Saturday!

    Weekly Roundup – Friday Favorites #01

    It’s been a super fast week and I can’t believe it’s already Friday! I’ve been incredibly busy with craft projects, my new line of pieces for Clever Plumage, and working on building a training program for the small company I work for.

    I am pretty proud of this week. I feel like despite feeling a little down and out I accomplished so much. And guess what?! Next week I’ll be in Denver!
    Yep, I am driving too! I am taking a road trip with my mother in law who has organized a conference in downtown Denver, she’s a geography professor that writes lots of books and is always traveling. I’ve never been to Denver so it’s going to be an exciting time for exploration and reflection. If you have any suggestions of places I should see, grab a cup of tea and have dinner. Let me know in the comments I could definitely use some recommendations.

    Okay on to Friday Faves. These are some little things that caught my eye on the o’l interwebs over the last week that I thought were worth sharing. Some are super crafty and fun, some delicious, some just plan adorable, and others are inspiring and uplifting!

    First off this homemade gin kit. I am a big fan of gin (love GnTs) and love infusing my own spirits with herbs and fruits. This kit rolls all that into one ready to go package. It maybe a little early to say this, but I think these would make excellent Christmas gifts for friends who have a special interest in tasty beverages.


    Three words: Shiitaki Vegan Bacon. Every veggie needs a little savory crunch every now and then and while I don’t usually get too stirred up about imitation meats (though I love a good veggie dog) every now and then you just need that little salty, savory, crunchy punch to add to a salad, soup, or side dish and these are gorgeous and so simple. Once I find me a quality shiitaki supplier in town I am making these bad boys for life.


    Love this  DIY on making a gorgeous triangular bag. I am seriously going to have to make one of these. I had a canvas triangle bag in highschool that I loved to pieces. Literally, used it till it fell apart. This tutorial is perfect for creating a new custom bag to love. Uh and gifts!


    Moorea Seals 52 Lists Project. When I first saw Moorea’s project back in January my printer wasn’t working, but I was able to go to the library a few weeks back and print off several of the lists at time. It’s a fantastic project that inspires creativity and reflection and you can complete it at your leisure. I also love seeing and hearing about everyone’s lists on their blogs.


    Elizabeth’s post Candid Thoughts on Modesty really got me. In this post Elizabeth talks about how modesty is not the only answer for rape prevention and that the conversation doesn’t stop there. I was so grateful that she approached this subject on her blog as I hadn’t seen it on any of the fashion blogs I read like I hoped. She’s an incredibly smart, brave and creative woman. If you’ve never read her blog I urge you to start here.

    Elizabeth_delightfullytackydotcom_Candid_thouts_on Modesty

    ||| I also love this cute DIY mushroom and moss wreath by Crafts and Coffee Blog.
    ||| This post on making new friends in a new town on Apartment Therapy.
    ||| This DIY from Stars for Streets on making your own Galaxy Dress.
    ||| This video from Totally Vegetarian on Youtube on making a vegan mushroom pate. I know I’m on a mushroom kick!
    ||| This adorable plaid shirt on Modcloth.

    That’s all for now, I hope you have a great weekend and some warm weather ahead!


    My thrifty Threads – Urban boho

    Hillery of @Handmakemylife 's thrifty urban boho look

    Saturday was the very first time I took our new Pentax K-r out on my own.  James equipped me with several lenses and gave me a run down on what gear I had before I left. It was like driving to school alone for the first time. I was nervous and I was excited.

    I think I did a damn good job for a first try, especially since every shot is taken one at a time with a 12 second timer and all the close-ups are done with my 50 mm lens in which case I had to manually focus. I did use an 18 -55mm automatic focus lens on most of my wider shots, but there are a lot I still set up myself with the 50mm (and didn’t get quite right), this first shot included. So all an all I am very proud of myself and ready for the challenge again this week, but only if it’s sunny and warm cause this shoot was freezing!

    Hillery of @Handmakemylife 's thrifty urban boho look

    Thank goodness the snow is finally melting away here in Kingston. It’s been acting like spring on and off since March began, but of course she hasn’t committed to sticking around yet. The winter months up here are hard for me. Being from such a warm, who am I kidding, a freaking hot climate, I have a hard time adjusting to so much cold for so long, I don’t hate it, but it doesn’t make me want to leave the house unless I have to. This year has been pretty good because I kind of cheated and was able to spend most of the winter in Georgia. Though the past month and a half alone have been plenty of winter for me.

    Hillery of @Handmakemylife 's thrifty urban boho look

    I really love this dress. I bought it at T.J. Maxx when I was down in Georgia for a wedding in February. Everything I brought with me just wasn’t working and this was exactly what I was looking for, a hi-low skirt, with a trendy, bohemian vibe and at the right price.  Also these tights are amazing. I went searching on e-bay for some sweater tights and I found this great shop that carried nothing but tights (side note: his shop is now empty, but he was the nicest guy. He’s in the UK so I contacted him about shipping to Canada and he was so helpful and super fast at returning messages). They are so soft and comfortable and I love the way they fit.

    Hillery of @Handmakemylife 's thrifty urban boho look. Maroon and gold nails colors by Maybelline.

    Hillery of @Handmakemylife 's thrifty urban boho look

    The bangles I thrifted at Value village for whopping 1.99 last summer and the Converse are some of my favorites and a very old thrifty find. I found them five  years ago at my local goodwill down in Georgia,  and they were brand new. Goodwill get’s the stuff that Target doesn’t sell and used to put it out on Thursdays. I miss Targets and Goodwills. What you can’t tell from the photos is that the shoes are covered in black hexagon sparkles. Next time I wear them I will have to be sure and remember to take a better shoe shot so you can really see the sparkles.

    Hillery of @Handmakemylife 's thrifty urban #boho look with Roots and Feathers earrings @violetbella #bohemian #style

    My gorgeous earrings I bought from the lovely Laura Mazurek’s Etsy shop, Roots and Feathers. Some of you may be familiar with her incredible blog of the same name. Well, her shop is equally as incredible and full of so much love. I have had my eyes on a few of her pieces for some time and was super excited to have little extra cash when she was having her spring sale so I could snag these babies. They made it all the way up here to Canada (teehee just kidding) so fast and I am so so pleased. They are great quality, were packaged beautifully and Laura puts a lot of heart and soul into what’s she does so when I wear them I feel absolutely fantastic. Just the little pick me up I needed.

    These are my favorite sun glasses and the funniest thing about them is, not only are they the only pair I’ve actually managed to keep up with through the years, but I actually found these while on a six hour kayaking trip with my family in Alabama. We have a little cabin near Centre on Terrapin Creek. We spend most of the summers there bbqing and going down the creek. I found these at the bottom of the creek while swimming in our favorite spot about four years back and I really like the shape.

    Hillery of @Handmakemylife 's thrifty urban boho look breakdown.(That’s my real handwriting! I used PS touch on my android tablet to write on the photo. How cool is that?)

    Outfit details:
    Dress //// T.J. Maxx /// $19.99
    Sweater //// Found ///Free
    Tights //// E-bay/// $7.00
    Bangles //// Value Village/// $1.99
    Shoes //// Goodwill /// $4.99
    Earrings//// Roots and Feathers /// $27.00 on sale
    Sunglasses //// Courtesy of Terrapin Creek

    Hillery of @Handmakemylife 's thrifty urban #boho look. Maroon and gold nails. Polish by Maybelline. #fashion #nailart

    Nail details:
    base ////Maybelline /// Dressed to Kill
    gold tips //// Maybelline /// Bold Gold

    Happy April 1st!

    Cotton Wedding Aniversary

    Tuesday was James and I’s second wedding anniversary. It’s quite the new thing for us to celebrate an event by going out places or buying gifts, we’re that weird couple who doesn’t ever celebrate Valentines day.

    In the past seven and half years that we’ve been together, it was not till we got married that we decided we should do a little celebrating now and then, and plan to out have a nice time and try to do something sweet or thoughtful instead of just winging it. Don’t get me wrong winging it is great, but it became so nonchalant that holidays were the same as any other day and we could both tell that we both needed and wanted a little more from one another.

    Last year we were gifted by our family a night out at the nicest restaurant town, which is also something we are not used to. So this year, after James received a gift certificate for a volunteer photography job he did, to the same lovely restaurant, we decided to make it a tradition and set up our reservations for our anniversary.

    I must say that it is absolutely marvelous to treat yourself to such a night every now and then. It felt like an afternoon lounging by the pool or day at the spa, some serious enjoyment was happening.

    We put on our fancy clothes, combed our hair (I even put on makeup, gasp!), bundled up in our winter coats, clasped on our helmets, and scooted (oh yeah! On a side note we are now the proud owners of an e-bike which is super fun and I’ll introduce her here in a future post!) the couple of kilometers over to the lovely River Mill restaurant in the old cotton mill.

    With the new day light hour we were able to enjoy the river view over sunset and candle light. We even ordered a lovely bottle of wine and sat enjoying fruits and cheeses while our entres were being prepared by a chef. A chef!

    Can you tell I don’t get out much?

    For dinner I had a deliciously tender fillet of sustainable British Colombian Salmon over cheesy polenta with roasted butternut squash and kale, while James enjoyed a gorgeous chicken breast from a farm right here in Kingston. We finished everything off with a chocolate tort and a strawberry mouse and listening to soft jazz over coffee and tea.

    Best of all was the time we had together. We couldn’t keep our mouths shut, except when there was delicious cheese on the table, then I am sure it was rather quiet in our little corner of the restaurant. But all the while we talked about our future projects, our goals for the month, and for the next four months. We brainstormed, critiqued, and laughed and giggled for two hours while dinning on some of the most amazing flavors and foods we’d had in a very long time. It was a fantastic time and we came home happy and full.


    I could not have asked for a better anniversary. I hope we can keep the tradition up next year! I think I am going to keep him around long enough to do this a few more times.

    Spontaneous Winter Weekend


    This past weekend I took a spontaneous surprise (24 hour) drive to Ontario, Canada to surprise and visit my love. Since September I have been living a life between worlds, half way between Georgia and half way between Ontario. Because of this James and I have not seen as much of each other as we’d like. Travel is expensive, taking off time from work is difficult, and driving 1,500 miles is draining.

    We’ve made long distance work for us over the last few months by defining our communication needs. We have a defined call time every night at 9:30, sometimes this is simply a check in, I love you, but most times there is something we need to discuss and make a decision about a household matter. In the 8 years we’ve been together we’ve always been team player decision makers. We also e-mail each other regularly, usually everyday or every other day. We also use Skype to get that much needed facetime. Sometimes we eat our dinner while skyping just to normalize things. And though all of these things are fun and exciting. they aren’t really enough when the one you love is in another country.


    James’ little sister texted me last Wednesday, telling me that she was planning a quick trip up to Ontario while she had some down time and I jumped at the opportunity to surprise James. He really had no idea that I was coming, a complete and total surprise and as a result we had a sweet, snowy, and snugly weekend together. Perfection.


    Sunday it snowed all morning. It was the perfect fluffy snow, you know, snow angle quality. Light and puffy, constant and magical. We did a little adventuring and went out for a walk through the park and down to the lake. Lake Ontario was completely frozen over and had a few inches of snow covering the top of the ice. It looked like an endless, snowy field. The horizon barely visible.


    It was a wonderful way to spend a weekend, perfect snow, perfect love.

    Blue Christmas an Etsy Gift Guide for Her for Under $25

    In need of a few quick gifts for your sweetie on a budget? No worries, Etsy has you covered. For those unfamiliar folks out there, Etsy, is an online market place for the handmade artisan and vintage seller alike. Individual sellers, set up a personalized virtual shop to showcase their handiwork and unique finds.

    I put together an adorable winter inspired gift guide for the ladies with everything on the list Twenty-five dollars and under. If your gal likes teal as much as me then you are going to find just what you need on this list. See the details on the six great items about plus many more over on my Etsy treasury, Blue Christmas, a gift guide for the luck lady in your life.

    While you are there you can take a peak at the many many shops with one of a kind and truly unique items or maybe you’d like to set up an account to create your own treasuries to share and to start shopping!

    More gift guides to come and lots of holiday inspiration. Happy Holidays everyone!

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