Friday, December 30, 2011

SwellChel Does New Year's: Salsa Bean Dip (updated with pics)

Something that my husband and I always look forward to every New Year's Eve is getting together with family or friends and enjoying everybody's yummy food :)  We usually do just appetizers and desserts and it's always fun to try a little bit of everyone's creations!  We just munch while we play games, visit and watch movies.

Traditionally I make Salsa Bean Dip every year.  I'm not sure if that's even it's name (I've seen something similar online called Cowboy Caviar... it's a variation I make of a recipe I got from a colleague years ago.  But, we love it and it is always gobbled right up.  I wish I could put into words how yummy this is!

I thought I would share the recipe with you ... if you don't make it for New Year's it's great to make for any get together!


1 can white kernel corn (drained)
1 can black beans (drained)
1 can black eyed peas (drained)
1 can diced tomatoes (drained ... or you can dice up tomatoes yourself)
3 to 4 avacodos diced 
1 bunch of cilantro, diced
1 bunch green onions, diced
1/3 to 1/2 a bottle of zesty italian dressing 

Mix all together and serve with chips!


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SwellChel Does New Year's: Let's Celebrate!

Happy New Year's!!!

I've realized this year that I have very few New Year's traditions besides counting-down at midnight (or midnight New York time so we can go to bed earlier!).  Thanks to ideas I've come across on blogs and Pinterest I think we are going to start some new traditions ...

One thing I am short on is New Year's decor ... especially since Christmas decorations are usually still up!  I love this subway art from eighteen25 that you can find here.
{image via eighteen25}

I also like the idea of interviewing your kids every New Years and keeping them all together in a cute binder that you add to each year.  I think it will be fun to see how the children grow and while I've seen similar "interview" ideas out there for birthdays and such I like the idea that these interviews are kept all in one piece ... imagine what a treasure this will be in five years, ten years or twenty years :)

One interview idea I found at Teach Mama here
{image via Teach Mama}

Another interview idea is found at Thirty Handmade Days here
{image via Thirty Handmade Days}

I thought these countdown activity bags found on the Idea Room here were a great idea!  Have different activities for the kids to do each hour on the hour.
{image via The Idea Room}

Need some other ideas for kids on New Year's Eve?!?!  Hip Hip Hooray has 10 ideas here and I especially liked the BINGO game!
{image via Hip Hip Hooray}

 Need something for the kids to do while watching the parade New Year's Day?!?!
How about a fun mini printable pack from 2 Teaching Mommies?!?!
You can find it here.
{image via 2 Teaching Mommies}

I don't think we've ever done a really big traditional breakfast for New Years but I'm thinking these pancakes are a great idea to start a new tradition at our house!
Found them at Disney Family Fun here.
{image via Disney Family Fun}

Do any of you have New Year's Resolutions?!?!  
A top one for a lot of people is getting their life organized ... and although I am kind of organized I think that I have a hard time letting go of clothes in my closet :)

I saw this idea on Pinterest which linked to Ray and Jen here
Basically you hang all of your clothes hangars backwards in your closet and turn the hangar around as you were that article of clothing.  In six months if there are any that haven't been turned around you can donate them!  Great idea, huh?!?!  It's especially easy for an Orange County gal like me where I don't have a seasonal wardrobe as much and wear the same clothes year round for the most part ... then I have no excuse if I haven't worn in it by June!
{image via Ray and Jen}

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I added all of these ideas on my New Year's board on Pinterest if you want to follow it here.

SwellChel Does Christmas: Christmas Card Books

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas!  We were hit by a stomach bug but survived and still had a wonderful time as a family!  

By far one of my most favorite Christmas traditions is Christmas cards!  I love sending them and I LOVE getting them ... I can't wait for the mailman to come everyday in December!

I also love looking at Christmas cards at other people's homes ... if they are displayed I love to look at them all, see the different styles and ideas, and something about them makes me so happy! :)

I don't know about you but I get sad every year when it's time to take the cards down.  I usually end up putting them in a baggie and sticking them in a box somewhere because I can't stand getting rid of them!

Inspired by a few bloggers who keep their cards every year I decided to give it a try and make a Christmas Card Book.  I thought these books would be so fun to pull out every year and see how your family and friends have changed!

Shawni at 71toes posted about her Christmas cards last year (there are some really creative ones you should check out), and how she keeps them in a bound photo book.

This year, eighteen25 posted another way to make a Christmas card book and even provided free printables to create your own!  (which is what I used)

I just used my three-hole puncher (only two of the holes though) and punched through all of my cards, and attached them with two d-rings!   I have it displayed for now and will eventually pack it away with my Christmas things for next year!  

I love making new traditions!

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Monday, December 26, 2011

Sunday, December 18, 2011

SwellChel Does Pinterest: Christmas Edition

Are you ready for Christmas?!?!

One week away!  I can't believe it!

Our family is pretty much ready but thanks to Pinterest I have some crafts/treats/activities on my "to do" list for this week!  

Here are some of my Pinterest finds I'm hoping to still do ... if not this year, then next!
(you can check out my Pinterest Christmas board here)

Christmas Minute-to-Win-it Games
I'm so excited to try these fun, easy and festive games with my family!
idea from : cloud 8
link : here

Peppermint Bark Rice Krispie Treats
From: Our Best Bites
Link: here

 Ruffled Christmas Tree Tutorial
from : The Southern Institute
link : here

 Free Santa Letters Printables
from : Lily and Thistle
link: here

Krispie Treat Christmas Tree
(I'm in charge of one of the treats for our family Christmas Eve ... I think the kids would love these)
From : Cookies and Cups
Link : here

DIY Ruched Tree Skirt out of 70" Round Tablecloth
(I already bought a pretty gold tablecloth ... now I need to get over my fear of sewing!)
Idea from: Tea and Lime
Link : here

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

SwellChel Does Christmas: Peppermint-White Chocolate-Oreo Bark

My sister-in-law Megan came up with this YUMMY concoction 
and said I could share it on here.

It is literally only THREE ingredients and is SO easy!

I couldn't get enough of it when I sampled some ... 
it was so Christmasy with the peppermint in it!

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1 1/2 cups Ghiradelli white chocolate chips
15 candy cane hershey kisses (chopped up to melt easier)
18 oreos

Line an 8X8 pan with wax paper allowing for it to hang over the edge. 

Melt chocolate chips and candy cane hershey kisses until smooth. (I did a double boiler, I'm sure it would work to do the microwave too.) 

Let cool for a few minutes. 

Meanwhile, chop up 15 of the oreos and mix in with the chocolate.

Pour into pan and spread out evenly. 

Crumble remaining 3 oreos and layer on top of the mixture.

Chill in fridge for 20-30 minutes until hardened.

Take wax paper out of the pan, and crumble the bark into pieces. 

ENJOY!  Thanks Megan!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Giveaway Winner for "Come Let Us Adore Him" by The Lower Lights!

Thanks for those who entered the giveaway -  I was so excited to share something that I love and that fills my home with beautiful Christmas music!  Thank you also for sharing your favorite Christmas songs!

Congrats to #8
 kleprekteacher who said...

There are so many wonderful songs!! Two of my very favorites are What Child is This and Still Still Still,

I will be in touch with you to send you the link to download the album!

For those of you who didn't win the album is available to download at iTunes, Amazon or from their website!

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Saturday, December 10, 2011

SwellChel Does Christmas: M&M Nativity neighbor gifts

The big question every year is "What do we make for our neighbors/friends to drop off?"  We've done windmill cookies for Sinterklaas day, Santa Claus sugar cookies, Peppermint Trader Joe-Joe cookies, etc.

I've seen different versions of the "M&M Nativity Legend" and thought would be a fun thing to pass out this year.  There is a little poem about the "M&M" ... where the "M" stands for Manger and if you turn it sideways the "E" stands for the star in the East, etc.

My Computer is My Canvas made my job easy by creating a really cute printable for free.
Check it out here.

We enlisted the kids' help to make some treats.  We used the square pretzels, topped them with peppermint Hershey Kisses, and after slightly melting them in the oven we topped them with christmas-colored M&Ms.  The kids took the job very seriously and felt proud of their accomplishment.  My Computer is My Canvas' post also has detailed instructions on how to make those treats.

We packaged up our treats and have already made some deliveries!

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Friday, December 9, 2011

SwellChel Does Christmas: Festive Cheese-ball Appetizer from eighteen25

Eighteen25 recently posted about one of their family's favorite holiday appetizers ...

I've never ever made a Cheese Ball but they made it sound so good I had to try it.  Their post even included really cute printable signs saying, "Spread a little Christmas cheer this holiday season"

I brought it to book club this week and got a thumbs up!  The recipe on eighteen25 makes two cheese balls so I'm saving the other one for our family party ... it was easy-peasy to make and yummy!

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

SwellChel Does Christmas: Magnetic Nativity for Kids

In September According to Kelly was one of the hostesses for a "Holiday Bake, Craft & Sew Along."

They had so many great ideas and I loved when they featured The Crafting Chicks' Magnetic Nativity Scene (check it out here).

I thought that it would be such a fun, cheap and easy thing to make for my kids.  Now that I've done it I think I'll make more sometime for nephews/nieces or friends - it really is easy!

I ended up buying some digital clip art from Etsy here (since I think I'll use it a lot in my digital scrapbooking).  It would also be easy to google "free nativity clip art" and find some images that way.  Then you just print your nativity scene on magnetic printer paper.  I bought this 5-pack on Amazon for $8.35. (feel free to shop around though - there might be a better deal out there).  Another idea would be to print the nativity scene on card stock, laminate and back with magnets.  :)

I love how it turned out and the kids have really enjoyed playing with the magnets.

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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Giveaway: Lower Lights album, "Come Let Us Adore Him"

I've been wanting to do a fun Christmas-giveaway on the blog for a while and I was racking my brain trying to think of what to give away.  I thought about my favorite Christmas-time traditions, and to me MUSIC is such a big part of the holidays.  By far one of my most favorite Christmas albums is "Come Let Us Adore Him" by The Lower Lights (it just came out this year).  I've listened to it almost exclusively this holiday season and I wanted to share my love of it with YOU!

I will be giving away one iTunes digital copy of Come Let Us Adore Him.  

To enter the giveaway just leave a comment on this post and tell me your favorite Christmas song!

You have until Sunday night at midnight and I'll announce the winner Monday morning!  Feel free to pass along to friends - anyone can enter.

You can check out previews of the songs HERE.  My favorite is "Stars of Glory" (it's to the tune of "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" ... seriously SO good!)

Find out more about The Lower Lights HERE.  (I LOVE their other CD "Lower Lights - a Hymn Revival" too!

SwellChel Does Christmas: Pottery Barn knock-off "NOEL" Sign

I love browsing through Pottery Barn Catalogs - they have amazing products and decorating ideas. 99% of the time their products are out of my budget's range :) 

I was so excited when Sew Dang Cute Crafts featured a knock-off "NOEL" sign from Pottery Barn.  The original price tag was $149 and she made her version for $8.  Lots better, huh?
Check out the post here.

I thought it would be a fun DIY project to try this month.
I used coupons at Joanns to purchase the large paper mache letters, and also bought the "hammered" bronze spray paint there.  Total = $8.

There really is nothing too it ... I glued the letters together with hot glue (Sew Dang Cute Crafts also used sawtooth picture hangers to nail it together and make it sturdy). 

Then I spray painted .... and voila!  

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