Monday, December 15, 2014

I'll Be Home for Christmas

Hello World! I have completely dropped the ball blogging this month. Time is flying and we have been crazy busy. I was so excited when family came to visit at the beginning of the month and this past weekend we were completely wrapped up in spending time at the Christmas markets with good friends. Not to mention...

Two work days, laundry, German taxes (vomit), and an international flight is all that stands between now and the time when my feet will hit Texas soil. 

Our first meal? A big bowl of Blue Bell Peppermint ice cream!

We will finally meet our new nephew and help our niece celebrate her first birthday! 

I've also heard that one of my best friends had a baby over the summer. Are we really old enough to be mothers?! I'm pretty sure we were just nervously asking our dates to Winter Formal (MORP) with Christmas ornaments and puzzles. Can't wait to meet the little man she keeps WhatsApping me photos of every week. <3 My arms will be full during this visit!

AND...two years is way too long to go without a spin around the dance floor. Husband and I met dancing (I really should share this story sometime!) so we are long overdue for some honky-tonk good times. Cowboy boots are now on my packing list! 

That is all just this weekend. Trips home are not slow-paced. When you have been out of the country for 12 months, visits at home are typically jam packed with family events, lunches with friends, restocking of favorite products, and bellies full of Tex-Mex/BlueBell/BBQ/BlueBell/Fried Chicken/BlueBell. The time is always WAY too short and in the blink of an eye we are sitting back on the runway heading back over the sea.  

I am so thankful we have the opportunity to be home for Christmas and get back to our roots. I may even let my Texas accent lay on a little heavier than I do in Munich, Germany! 

Laundry's Calling,

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Cranberry Orange Christmas Bread

I do not even know how to begin this blog post except with the phrase "Oh. My, Word." Something absolutely amazing has happened and it has left me searching for words to describe it. Everything I have come up with just doesn't portray how delicious the following recipe turned out. 

This is the story of Cranberry Orange Christmas Bread. It all started last week when I baked Christy's Cooking Creations Cranberry Apple Cider Bread with my kindergarten class. It was a special Thanksgiving treat. As the loaves baked, the scents of cranberry and apple cider floated into the hallways. Teachers continuously stopped by and to ask, "What are you baking today?" The teachers casually dropped hints of where I should put any leftovers.

Back home, I wanted to bake Cranberry Apple Cider Bread for Husband. Except while gathering the materials, I realized I was missing one major key cider! One item I did have on hand? Oranges! Remembering from my childhood my mom's yummy, sticky cranberry orange muffins, I knew I wanted to try Cranberry Orange Christmas Bread. 

Ingredients for the bread:
- 1 1/2 cups of flour
-1 tsp. ground cloves
-1 tsp. baking soda
-1/2 tsp. baking powder
-1/2 tsp. salt
-1 cup cranberries, fresh
-1/2 cup orange juice, fresh squeezed
-zest of one orange
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-1/4 cup oil
-1/4 cup sour cream
-2 eggs
-1/4 tsp. vanilla

Ingredients for the glaze:
-1 cup powdered sugar
-1 T. orange juice, fresh squeezed

In a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ground cloves. Set aside.

Zest one orange into a larger mixing bowl. (Star Wars pajama pants again?!

Add to the zest 1/2 cup of fresh orange juice. I just juiced the orange I zested and reserved 1 tablespoon for the glaze. I'm sure store bought orange juice would work just fine if you do not own a juicer. 

Whisk together the orange zest, orange juice, eggs, sour cream, oil, vanilla, and brown sugar. 

Stir the flour mixture into the wet bowl. Stop stirring once the mixture is just combined. 

Fold the cranberries into the mixture. I had a few extra cranberries left over so I threw those inside as well. You can't go wrong with too many cranberries!

Grease a bread pan with cooking spray or butter. I used butter and had to really jimmy the bread out of the pan once it baked. 

Bake the bread for 40 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Check the bread 30 minutes in to make sure it does not over cook. I accidentally had the temperature too hot and almost over cooked the bread but caught the mistake with minutes to spare. The bread should bake evenly at 350 without any problems. Let the bread cool in the pan for about 1 hour. 

After the bread has cooled, remove it from the pan and put it onto a serving platter. Stir together the powdered sugar and orange juice. If needed, add a splash of milk to create the right consistency. Gently drizzle the glaze over the top of the bread. 

I set the bread as the centerpiece onto a simple white platter. On the left side I placed sliced oranges and on the right cranberry compote. Cut pine branches were used as filler to compliment the red cranberries. On top of the glaze,I garnished the loaf with a cut piece of orange and two cranberries. The entire presentation setup took about 10 minutes and is quick enough for Christmas morning. 

If you try out this recipe for Cranberry Orange Christmas Bread, I promise you will not be disappointed. It just might even end up on your Christmas morning breakfast menu! 

Are you planning a special Christmas morning breakfast?

If so, what is on your Christmas morning menu?

If you are looking for an easy meal idea for the end of the week, make sure to check out Slow Cooker Taco Soup

Did you catch yesterday's recap of our day trip to Rothenberg o.b. Tauber, Germany? We spent Saturday touring the medieval city and Christmas market!

Happy Wednesday,

Monday, December 1, 2014

Christmas Market in Rothenberg o.b. Tauber

Hello World! Yesterday, Husband opened his first day on his Christmas Advent Calendar and loved it! It was a picture of us from April when we spent approximately 1 hour in Pisa, Italy. (Just long enough to snap a photo!) Before we know it the advent calendar will be nearly finished, Christmas Eve will come and then we will wonder where this month of December went.

Saturday morning we looked at the calendar and realized we only had three weekends left in Germany until our trip home. Christmas time is magical in Bavaria and we want to make the most of this short season so we RAN to the car. Our destination was my absolute favorite town of Rothenberg o.b. Tauber just over 2 hours north of Munich. It's the perfect town for a last minute adventure!

Now my Cyber Monday has taken a little bit longer than I had originally planned, so I'm going to let the photographs do the rest of the talking. The bed is calling my name.

Did you catch yesterday's craft post on Christmas Gift Tags?

Make sure and check back tomorrow when I share something delicious!

Goodnight World,
Linking up to share this memory with:

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Made It Monday: Christmas Gift Tags

It's December 1st! The first Monday of the month and just 25 days until Christmas. I'm sure you already know that and are busy getting ready for the celebration. Today I am sharing a super easy, quick craft for Christmas!

If you have been following along you probably know I adore Julia Andrews and The Sound of Music. My mom and I watched The Sound of Music every summer when I was growing up. We would rent the movie from the public library and the songs would stick around for days. 
My Mom (with a bow?!)

It's near impossibly for me to think about Christmas without the tune "...brown paper packages tied up with strings..." popping into my head. A few years ago I wrapped all of the Christmas presents in brown packing paper and I'm thinking of doing the same thing again this year. I just love the simple look of it all! These are a few of my favorite inspiration pictures:

I love that every package is unique and different from each other. You can see the time someone took to create a nice presentation for the receiver. 

Doesn't the whole set up of these packages look magical? I really need to remember to grab red ribbons when I see them on clearance throughout the year. 

A couple of weeks ago I created a Christmas Advent Calendar for Husband. At the end of the project I had scraps of paper sitting on my table. I'm a big believer in using what I already have on hand. Wondering what to do with the paper leftovers, I dug around my scrapbook supplies and found brown cardboard paper. This instantly reminded me of my love of brown paper packages and the idea of Homemade Gift Tags for Christmas was born!

I used a stencil to trace different tag layouts. A couple of years ago I bought a fantastic tag stencil at a local craft bazaar for around 1 Euro. I was quite happy to put it to good use this year!

One side of the brown cardboard paper was covered in the leftover Christmas scrapbook paper I had piled up. I attached the Christmas paper to the brown paper with spray glue. (You can read about another spray glue gift wrapping project here) I even cut a girl and boy gingerbread cookie from a catalog for my niece and nephew!
The backs of each tag I kept brown. I think the brown backs and bright fronts will compliment packaging post paper nicely! Since the paper is thick and a bit textured, I used a red paint pen for the To: and heart. The red really pops out off the brown!

The tops of each card was hole punched and a piece of yarn thread through. I used a mix of three different red yarns with varying textures. I left the yarn ends free so they can be tied onto packaging bows later on closer to Christmas. 

This project is perfect if you are stuck inside on a snowy day or just needing something to do while you watch a Christmas movie! The whole project took about an hour. And there ya have it friends! I'm probably the only person on the planet packing homemade gift tags into their carry-on for the flight home. 

Are you already wrapping presents?

Do you pick out particular styles of wrapping or do you keep it random?

Be sure and check back to Mainly Maren tomorrow for a weekend wrap-up of the Christmas Market in Rothenberg o.b. Tauber, Germany.

Wednesday, I am featuring a special breakfast item that will definitely find it's place on my Christmas Menu this year!

Today I am linking up with:
My Pinterventures

Make Christmas Giving Beautiful,