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Monday, December 26, 2011

2011 Christmas Celebrations

Our Christmas Celebrations are always jam packed with activities, family and food!  This year was no different.

Christmas Eve Afternoon
We spent the afternoon at my grandparent's for lunch and games.  Grammy has the most beautiful china and always gets to set a lovely table.  She also researches great games, puzzles, and trivia for us to play to bring back great childhood memories, learn more about the history of Christmas or just have fun. She served her famous Swedish Meatballs that take forever to cook and she hates them for months after serving them but they always are a huge hit with everyone!

Grammy's beautifully set table

Christmas Eve Night
We spent the evening after church at my parent's house.  We enjoyed playing BuzzWord and snacking on a wonderful Bass spread of Christmas jello, clam dip, chips and dip, cheese and crackers.  After the game we opened our yearly Christmas Pajamas and Ornaments.

Jeanine's famous Christmas Jello

Christmas Day
The morning each family spent at their individual homes unwrapping presents.  The afternoon and evening were spent at my house for games and dinner.

Every Christmas Dinner I like to try a different recipe but always with lamb.  This year was Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb with a Cabernet sauce served with Roasted Carrots, Mushrooms and Brussel Sprouts and Mashed Potatoes.  My sister and I artistically plated each serving and provided extras family style for people to have seconds.  After two years of rack of lamb its been decided we will try a different cut of lamb next year to spend less time getting to the meat ;)  I still think two chops look the best and so elegant on a plate.

Table set for Christmas Dinner

For our wedding we received a large trifle bowl as a present but it cracked in shipment. I returned it and decided to get 12 individual trifle bowls from Pier 1 instead.  I love them for entertaining.  I wanted to make a family favorite, Raspberry Trifle, but my husband doesn't like fruit deserts. He wanted chocolate.  So I ended up making half Raspberry and half Chocolate.  Not only do the deserts look delicious, they are much easier to make then they look and with Sugar Free or Fat Free options can be a nice lighter desert.

Raspberry Trifle and alternative Chocolate Trifle

The best part of hosting a party is seeing all the empty plates and licked clean bowls of desert.  We all enjoyed a round of Disney Apples to Apples, a Christmas present opened that morning, while moaning at how wonderful the meal and the entire day was.

Clean bowls and fun games!

2011 Christmas Ornaments

Another tradition our family celebrates each Christmas Eve is opening our grandmother, Baba's, yearly ornaments.  Each year she spends most of the holiday shopping seasons hunting for the perfect ornament to portray a special moment of the year or special significance.

This year's biggest hit was the Hallmark 2011 Peanuts Wireless musical boxes.  They each have 2 songs that play and can link together wirelessly to compliment each other's songs.  Check out the video to see how neat they are.

Baba confessed she held off wrapping them till the morning of Christmas eve because she was having too much fun playing with them herself!  The family liked the 3 she gave to us (1 for my dad, 1 for my sister, and 1 for her boyfriend) but they might never be all in the same place again so Baba is going out after Christmas to buy sets for each household.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas Eve Pajamas

One of our biggest holiday traditions was started by my mother, Jeanine, in 1982.  She made me my first Christmas Eve pajamas for my first Christmas.  Since then she's been making the family PJs every Christmas. 

At our family gathering Christmas Eve we open our Christmas PJs. We always know we'll get them but we never know what kind of flannel fabric mom picked out for all of us 4 kids and my dad.  Usually she tries to choose holiday themed fabric, like snowflakes, or something of interest to us, like trains, butterflies, or camouflage. Children and adults get flannel PJ pants with matching shirts while babies get footed PJs.

As our family grew up, kids moved out, went to college, got married. and started their own families.  In 2008, we were lucky enough to all be home for the holidays and took this Christmas Eve family portrait in our pajamas.  This year mom started to add more PJs to her annual to-do list.  This year she has made 10 for her husband, 4 children, 3 in-laws, and 2 grandchildren.

In 2009, I realized we all got Christmas Eve pajamas except my mother.  She had worked so hard all those years making our pajamas but she never made one for herself.  That didn't feel right to me so I started making her Christmas Eve pajamas.  She preferred an old Simplicity nightgown pattern over the PJ pants (you can see the style in the family portrait).  The first year I made her 2 Christmas themed nightgowns to make up for so many Christmas Eves that she went without.  I spent a few hours this morning making her 2011 nightgown. My favorite part is embellishing it with lace, ruffles, ribbon and rick-rack.  She doesn't usually go beyond the average for herself so I really like making her something super pretty for her Christmas Eve pajamas.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Present Wrapping

The Christmas season doesn't officially start for us until my little sister and I have our traditional Starbucks and Gift Wrap Wonderland adventure. Every year we visit Metro Point in South Coast Plaza, grab a coffee or cider and walk around Container Store picking out wrapping paper. 

I decorate all generic gifts, that would go under our tree, with more classical paper accented with red, green and gold.  I love Container Store's crinkled gold paper ribbon, it adds so much elegance to packages.  I also use craft accent tags in Victorian designs.

Other gifts we wrap in person-specific paper. My little sister always gets to pick out her own, usually something pink and glittery.  Then there is fun paper for my 5 nephews.  This year I was super lucky to find the perfect Christmas Train wrapping paper for my Foamer dad at Container Store.

Cut items from expensive paper and
use to decorate other packages.

Use tulle, available in wedding craft aisle, as ribbon.
Tie a bow, then cut the loops and tails to make a snow ball.
Cut items from paper and attach to marking tag to make matching tags.

It might be surprising but Ikea is another great place for wrapping paper.  I get their red and brown paper -- almost 9 yards for just $1!  The paper is really good for combo presents to complement the more expensive paper.  Also, the brown paper is perfect for making your own sewing patterns.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Seasonal Decorating: Christmas!

Christmas is my favorite holiday!  I love the warm fuzzy feeling you get when its cold out, you're all bundled up, holding hands with your loved ones while you hunt for the perfect Christmas tree. Decorating the house as we grew up was so much fun; turning the house into a winter wonderland!

While this is the last post of our Seasonal Decorating blog series, the decorations were actually the first I made to celebrate our Christmas two months after I got married.  I fell in love with Debbie Mum's 2010 Ornament fabric and used it as the basis for all our Christmas items.

As you've seen in our other Seasonal Decorations Love always plays a big role, so it had to be a big part of Christmas time too! Santa Claus has never been a big part of my family Christmas so choosing the Peace, Love, Joy theme was perfect for us.  For Peace I used a dove icon, for Love a heart, and for Joy a star.

Mantle decorated with fabric trees, candles and hanging stockings.

One of three handmade ornaments, the peace dove.

Christmas pillowcases with Peace, Love and Joy and Ornament fabric.

Our Love jars, pine cones, and cream and gold candles.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

In-Law's Thanksgiving Left Overs Spinach Salad

I'm really particular about left overs.  There are only a few things I like left over, some of them are Thanksgiving goodies like mashed potatoes, stuffing and pearled onions. But once they are gone I'm usually left with lots of turkey and you can only have sandwiches so many times.

Thankfully my mother-in-law shared a new salad that is perfect for Thanksgiving left overs. It looks and tastes vibrant and fresh, completely opposite of usual beige left overs! 

Turkey or Chicken meat, cubed or flaked
Cranberry sauce (Trader Joe's Cranberry Orange Relish is delicious!)
White Stilton cheese with Cranberries
Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds) or Candied Pecans
Balsamic Vinaigrette

What's your favorite way to have Thanksgiving left overs?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011 at the Basses

Jeanine's favorite holiday is Thanksgiving. She's 'called' it and gets to host it each year.  This year we spent it together with our family including my in-laws and my grandparents. It was one of our smaller Thanksgivings with 8 people.  In the past, when family and kids were close, we would have up to 20!

Jeanine, the chef, with the table set, waiting for food to cook!

We have a lot of traditions revolving around Thanksgiving.  My mother did her first Thanksgiving when she was 16. I followed her tradition, doing my first Thanksgiving when I was 17.  Jeanine has been serving the same items at Thanksgiving every year since she was 16... except the 1 year when I did my Thanksgiving. Just like everything we do, she follows every recipe every year and I mix everything up to try something new.  It's what makes us work well together.

The Menu
Turkey with Stuffing and Giblet Gravy
Green Bean Casserole
Mashed Potatoes
Pearled Onions in Cream
Creamed Corn
Acorn Squash (instead of the customary Yams)
Orange Jello Salad with Pineapple and Mandarin Oranges
Cranberry Sauce
Black and Green Olives
Pumpkin Pie (made from actual whole pumpkins!)
Dutch Apple Pie (made by Grammy)
Pecan Pie (Jenn's favorite!)
Cherry Pie

From the time I've been little,Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, all us kids would sit in front of the tv, watch classic Thanksgiving shows like "Mouse on the Mayflower" and "It's Thanksgiving, Charlie Brown!" and cut loaves of white bread into little squares for the stuffing. Mom makes the best stuffing from scratch!  This year was the first year Jeanine didn't have any kids at home to cut the bread so we introduced my in-laws to this great tradition.  The bread stays out over night to harden up like croutons before they get turned into yummy stuffing and in the turkey.

Jeanine cooks the turkey in a Reynolds Oven Bag.  Its the best way! No basting needed, all the juices get collected for the gravy and clean up is a super snap.

Turkey out of the oven ready to be put on the platter.

I learned a trick, used so much that I think its a tradition, to best host a meal.  My mom does it every year. You set the table or buffet area and write the names of dishes on scrap paper on the serving dish.  This helps you make sure you have a place for everything, the right serving utensils, trivets, etc.  The first time my husband saw me do it on my own he laughed.  But to be honest, this is definitely one thing where I don't mind 'turning into my mother' ;)

Jeanine's favorite side dish, Creamed Corn.

As always, we finish Thanksgiving dinner with my mom's famous pies.  Its too hard to choose a favorite so we usually all have a piece of each!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Seasonal Decorating: Acorns & Autumn Leaves

Autumn is an important time for our family.  Its especially important to my mother, Jeanine, who always hosts the family at her house for Thanksgiving.  She's decorated her house with turkeys, pilgrims and cornucopias. Since she's got the holiday reserved for her home I decided to keep our November decorations simply autumn.

I found beautiful unique autumn fabric that is a gorgeous golden mustard yellow with brown acorns and green oak leaves.  It goes great with cream birch and brown bark fabric to bring in natural elements.


Check back for our next holiday decorations: A Peace, Love & Joy Christmas
Our next seasonal decoration change will be for December.  Our Christmas decorations was the first project I completed after getting married last year. It was the perfect theme of Peace, Love and Joy for our new life as man and wife!

Monday, October 24, 2011

TNT Ministries 2011 Quilts

Jeanine organizes the TNT Ministries, a missions service group, at Harbor Trinity Church in Costa Mesa.  It first started in the 1950s as Womens Missionary Society, then Womens Missionary Fellowship, followed by White Cross, and now is TNT.  TNT is named after two people in the Bible, Tabitha who sewed garments for the poor and Titus who was an advocator of good works. 

It’s original work was making flannel baby blanket, flannel baby jackets, flannel diapers, flannel and muslin sheets, muslin hospital gowns, and rolling bandages for the NAB (North American Baptist) mission hospitals in the Cameroon in Africa.  In the 1990s, the group started making twin size patchwork quilts to be given out to various groups in Orange County that have need for them.  The group meets monthly to work on NAB items but meets weekly in the summer to peice, sew, and tie quilts.  
This summer, we completed 73 quilts!
They were donated to Sheepfold, OC Rescue Mission, and Mercy House.  4 of the quilts were created as prayer quilts, tied by friends and family while saying a prayer, and given to convalescing members of the church.
Interested in Joining TNT Ministries?
Anyone from age 5 and up are able to volunteer and help with this service group in Costa Mesa.  Visit Harbor Trinity Church Calendar for more information.

A Cinderella Costume fit for a Princess!

This year we made several costumes for a Disney Birthday Celebration for the baby of the family. She's been our Princess since she was born and wanted to really celebrate it for her 20th birthday.  She's been wanting a dress-up party (did I mention she is 20?) for the past several years and finally talked me into it (so I could talk our mom, Jeanine, into it).

As we do with most of our Creative Tradition special orders and new products, I shopped for the fabrics, patterns and trim then Jeanine would sew everything.  We were really lucky with the fabric. We discovered a Joann's store that was going out of business. We couldn't shop till the weekend since it was a bit of a drive... but EVERYTHING was 90% off.  The trick was we couldn't cut fabric... we had to buy the entire bolt!  That means you would get 10 yards of fabric for the price of 1 yard!  I think we only spent $15 on all three fabric to make the dress. That same trip inspired us to start making our Me and My Barbie dresses.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Origami Crane Earrings and Kimono Costumes

When we were little my littlest sister and I would watch a lot of anime. Not Pokemon, the real stuff, like Tenchi and all of Misaki's films like Princess Mononoke and Howl's Moving Castle. We would wear a kimono my mother made us, play with our stuffed cabbits, and make origami cranes. One year for Christmas I imported a real Japanese kimono with kendo training pants, socks, and accessories.

Origami Crane Earrings
Eventually as we got older we made the cranes smaller, covered them with clear nail polish, and turned them into the origami crane earrings that we have available for purchase in our shop.

Kimono Costumes
My mother sewed the kimonos using the Simplicity 5839 pattern. It includes full length and tunic kimono with obi (belt wrap) and ties. She made the kimono in big vibrant patterns with contrasting solid obi and ties. She made lots of different obi and ties so we could mix and match with different kimono.

Like what you see?
You can use this information to create your own costume or contact us to find out how to custom order your own Creative Tradition costume.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Seasonal Decorating: Wedding Anniversary

My husband and I married last year on 10.10.10 at a rural park in Orange County so we [ ok, to be honest all this decorating business is really a*me* decision ;) ] decided to decorate each October not with gouls and goblins and jack-o'lanterns but with reminders of our wedding day.

Love Jar with black ceramic birds and candles.

Our couch is so big it begs for lots of pillows. I love the bird fabric!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Oktoberfest Show Leads to Dirndl Barbie Doll Dress

We've been busy designing and sewing these past few months for our first event of the season: Oktoberfest at the Anaheim Phoenix Club. Here are a few pictures from the event.

German Oktoberfest Dirndl Barbie dress
One of our customers suggested we should make German dirndl dresses for Barbies, after all we were at an Oktoberfest. I started sketching at the event and this past weekend we made a prototype followed by our first ready-for-sale Red and Black Dirndl dress modeled after the customer's own dirndl dance costume.

Visit us at the next Anaheim Phoenix Club Oktoberfest events:
Sunday, October 16th, 2011 11am-6pm
Sunday, October 30th, 2011 11am-6pm

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Seasonal Decorating: Summer by the Sea

My husband and I had our first date in August. We spent most of our first months together driving up and down PCH, walking around Dana Point Harbor or Huntington Beach Pier.  We even said our first "I love you"s while walking around Alamitos Bay Marina. On the first anniversary of our first date I gave him a unique one-of-a-kind quilt filled with symbolism and with an ocean theme. So the beach and ocean have been very significant for us... what better way to continue celebrating our love and memories then decorate the house with an ocean theme for August and September?

Our 'sea' of pillows featuring sea, shells, sand and stripes.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Jeanine's Birthday Christmas in July Giveaway!

It's my mom's (and partner in crafting) birthday this month! As a present to all the Creative Tradition fans out there we'll be giving away a special Christmas in July set of five of our Beaded Ornament Stars in Crystal and Silver!

To enter the giveaway you will need to leave a comment on this post by Sunday, July 31st and share one of your favorite Christmas or other winter holiday memories. The winner will be announced on Monday, August 1st.

If you want to increase your chances, become a fan of the Creative Tradition Facebook page and leave a message on our Wall.

Check out all of our Christmas in July items at our online store including vintage ornaments, holiday Barbie dresses and more beaded ornaments like these beautiful colorful bells.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Mom's Blue Ribbon French Glaze Strawberry Pie

This strawberry pie is special. It's not your average grocery store or bakery pie.  It's refreshing, vibrant, and delicious.  It's my favorite desert, which says a lot growing up with a baker who makes 8 pies for Thanksgiving, never mind her cakes or cherry cream cheesecake.

For years my mother, Jeanine Bass, submitted her strawberry pie into the Orange County Fair.  Every year she won a blue ribbon and usually the best in category.   At the fair, most pies would be on display missing a small sliver that was tasted for judging.  That wasn't true of my mom's strawberry pie. They were half eaten, the judges just couldn't stop with a little taste! One year, our lives got more complicated with kids and activities so she wasn't able to submit a pie to the fair. That year no blue ribbons were awarded to the fruit pies... everyone missed her amazing strawberry pie.

One of my childhood favorite memories of my mother baking her pies was hoping that she didn't use all of the glaze. If we were good and helped her in the kitchen making the crust or stacking the berries she would give us a bowl of fresh strawberries and the left over glaze to dip them into.

Grammy's Pie Crust
Makes 1 covered pie or two single pies.

3 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1 cup shortening
3/4 cup warm water

Saturday, July 9, 2011

BBQ Kabobs: Chicken, Beef and Veggies

Our family loves hosting weekend barbecues with friends and family but after awhile everyone gets sick of the same old burgers, hot dogs or chicken.  A couple of years ago my mother and I decided to try something different and make shish kabobs. We found some marinade recipes online and gave them a try.  Like always, after trying the recipe for the first time I started making all kinds of changes to heighten the flavor.  Now we're going to share the perfected marinade recipe with you to enjoy at your summer BBQs!

Meat and Marinade
2 pounds cubed chicken, beef or both!
2 cups vegetable oil
1 cup soy sauce
2/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Seasonal Decorating: Patriotic Celebrations

Patriot Decorations
4th of July is a big holiday for my family. It's Jeanine's second favorite holiday beat only by Thanksgiving. Even though she always hosts the 4th of July BBQ I still wanted to celebrate our Independence with our decorations.

Joann's has some beautiful patriotic fabric, so much in fact that we purchased enough to make some placemats to sell online. I first selected a the same Patchwork Americana fabric we used on this Historic Barbie Dress but I fell in love with the Inspirational Patriotic fabric with words in old font styles which lead to the fun vintage Pinwheel fabric. Because the Inspirational fabric has so many patriotic sentiments besides Independence day I think these decorations will be out from Memorial Day to 4th of July.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Spinachless Spinach Dip

Ever tried Knorr's Spinach Dip? It's delicious!  But I'm not a big fan of spinach, I used to spend 20 minutes defrosting the spinach and chopping it finer and finer, and then I'd only put in half of the spinach.  Then a couple times later I only used a quarter of the spinach. Then I realized, why even add spinach?  Since then I've never gone back!  And the amazing part is I get much more compliments with my adaptation.

My spinachless spinach dip is made from a double batch of Knorr's basic recipe with extra scallions (green onions) and water chestnuts. I also use less mayo mainly because I don't like mayonnaise.  If you like it you can double it following the ratios of Knorr's original recipe.

Makes about 6-7 cups.

2 packages Knorr Vegetable recipe mix
2 16oz sour cream
1 cup mayo
3 8oz cans water chestnuts, drained and chopped
3 bunches of scallions (green onions), chopped
1 large bread bowl, hollowed out
1 french bread loaf, cubed

  1. Mix all ingredients together.
  2. Place dip into bread bowl.
  3. Chill at least 2 hours.
  4. Serve with cubed bread or sour cream and onion chips (Lays with ridges taste great and are thick enough to handle this chunky dip).

Baba's Clam Dip

For all of our family BBQs we'd always ask my Baba (grandmother) if she was bringing her clam dip.  My mom never made it much, it was something special Baba did.  The problem was, she would only bring a batch or maybe 2.  With a family of 5 and parties of at least 10 people 2 batches were never enough. Finally my mom and I were able to get the recipe. While its one of our favorites, we don't always make this dip for our family gatherings, it still is a special item for special days, usually for Mother's Day, Father's Day or the Superbowl.

Makes about 1 cups. For parties, I recommend making 4 to 6 times the recipe.

1 8oz box of cream cheese at room temperature
1 can minced clams
2 T mayonnaise
1 T lemon juice
1/2 t sugar
1/2 t Tabasco sauce

  1. Mix all ingredients together.
  2. Chill at least 2 hours.
  3. Serve with vegetables or sour cream and onion chips (Lays with ridges taste the best with the dip!).

Monday, June 6, 2011

New Design Studio for under $1,000 from Ikea

For the past year and a half I've been using our spare guest room as my craft room.  The room was a nice size with a queen bed and some chests of drawers, but things got very tight when I'd set up a 6 foot banquet table to cut and sew on. It wasn't pretty, but it got the job done.  Recently my sister asked if she could have the queen bed. A quick call to my in-laws, our usual guests, verified they'd be fine on a sofa bed or air mattress. Suddenly the possibilities were endless! I could have a real design studio!

It took a while to dream up what I think might work, then a day and a half of graph paper planning and online browsing to make my shopping lists. Besides for the items I had already, the entire room was made from Ikea products for under $1,000!  Really! Here is the Ikea shopping list if you want the same sewing or crafting workspace. 

Now for the tour...

I completely fell in love with this Hemnes hutch. It was supposed to go on a desk, which is sold out, but it worked out even better on the sofa table.  I especially love how I added an inspiration cork board to the middle of the hutch (using Command Strips) where a monitor would usually go.   It's also the perfect size to store my sewing machine when not in use or hold a laptop.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Potluck Four Bean Salad

This recipe is a family favorite and is perfect for BBQs and potlucks. The vibrant colors of the different beans looks great and the dressing really brings out all the flavors.

I call it Grandma Freda's Bean Salad but I've been told its derived from a Betty Crocker recipe but I haven't found it on their web site. My Great Grandma Freda died 6 years ago and I always get nostalgic when I eat this salad. It reminds me of summer vacations I spent at her house as a child.

Makes about 10 cups.

2 cans cut green beans
2 cans wax beans
1 can garbanzo beans
1 can red kidney beans
1 red onion
1 bell pepper (yellow or orange looks best)
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup salad oil
1/2 t salt
1/2 t pepper

  1. Open all cans of beans, drain, and place beans in a large bowl.
  2. Slice bell peppers about the same size as the green or wax beans. Add to bowl.
  3. Cut onion into medium squares, about 5/8". Add to bowl.
  4. In a 2 cup glass measure, combine all remaining ingredients for the dressing. Whisk and pour over beans in the bowl. (I love the dressing so much, I usually double the dressing compared to the beans)
  5. Cover bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours prior to serving.
Mix the ratios of beans based on your preferences. I like to add an extra can of wax beans. I don't like bell peppers so I don't usually include them unless its for a potluck while my grandmother leaves out the onions.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Custom Cover for an Ikea Henriksdal chair

Since we got married, we've had the leaf in our table to accommodate all of our house guests and have been using folding chairs for the extra chairs. It is about time the dinning table grew up! So this weekend I purchased 2 Ikea Henriksdal chairs for the ends of the table. The chair is about $60 and you can buy different covers for $10 to $30 based on the fabric.  But why not make your own custom cover to fit your decor?

1 $10 Ikea Gobo White cover
Large paper, like wax or wrapping paper or paper grocery bag

2.75 yards of 54" fabric (more if matching stripes)
0.25 yard of muslin or simple cotton
4 yards of 1 to 1.5" velcro... just the loop (soft side) only