Friday, December 31, 2010
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
So, as an after-Christmas special, I wanted to spotlight some of my special h♥memade gifts.
Numero Uno: Homemade food
One important thing you should know about me... I LOVE FOOD. From cranberry bread from my neighbor Patty to pear honey (which tastes awesome on toast with a little cinnamon) and spiced applesauce from ♥J to jam from Mar, I can't say much other than YUMMMMMM! In short, the applesauce is already gone and I'm working fast on the others....
Numero Dos: A bookmark from Nel
Holding it's place in one of my favorite Bible passages, a saweet bookmark from Nel! Seriously people, homemade gifts make me want to cry. Someone had to sit around, with their finger tapping their cheek, wondering what colors I might like or what style they see me as. LIKE. Keep it up sisters.
Numero Tres: Crochet goodies from Mar
This year the fam decided to do "secret santa"-ish gifting, and Mar had me as her secret giftee! I realize that I may be difficult to shop for, so she didn't do much shopping at all, just a lot of making! (and etsy shopping!). I am wearing my slippers right now and that clutch is all the excuse I need to get a new dress (despite the fact that it matches a few I already have!). If you're wondering what the Marshmallow is doing, he is sniffing my beautiful smelling feet.
Numero Quatro: A bracelet from etsy
Ok, so no one i know personally made this bracelet, but I think it's perfectly acceptable to count handcrafted gifts in this category. This bracelet is a Pandora replica from Cookalas House of Cards on etsy. Eileen, the store owner, actually was able to get my bracelet out to me with lightening speed in time for Christmas, and I can't express more how professional and kind she was! I used my Christmas gift money to purchase the bracelet. Here is a link to a bracelet similar to mine. Use your Christmas cash to get one today!! (I was not paid or perked or flattered to post this either, I just really like my new bracelet!!) :) My sister also got me a neat peacock pin on etsy and I have an extra peacock feather charm to craft something with! Oh, the possibilities! (PS can you see a peacock theme anywhere? haha).
Numero Cinco: A CD from my husband
This CD has a special place in my heart! On a camping trip back when we were first married, friends of ours had a "classical rock" CD playing in their car. It's classic rock hits performed by an orchestra or string quartet, piano, etc. My husband loves classic rock classics, and we always joked that that kind of CD would be perfect to get our future kids loving classic rock even when they're really young. In all our years of marriage, we'd never been able to find this particular CD. So, this year for Christmas, my husband (secretly) researched, searched for and downloaded the songs individually off iTunes. It actually made the CD so much more meaningful, because he was able to choose songs that had special meaning to us, or that remind him of me (for ex., God Only Knows by the Beach Boys). Now we'll be prepared for when we have kids someday, and for now I can enjoy the classical orchestra music and think about how wonderful my husband is and how much he loves me :).
And just a few more photos from our Christmas Eve get together:
cranberry bread (compliments of my neighbor Patty) :)
Hope everyone's Christmas was as merry as mine was and that your heart is full of love- the best homemade gift there is!
Monday, December 27, 2010
Saturday, December 25, 2010
And all went to be taxed, every one into his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David)
To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.
And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.
And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.
And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.
And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.
But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.
And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.
HIS NAME WAS CALLED JESUS...♥
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Friday, December 24, 2010
The stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dear Savior's birth
Long lay the world in sin and error pining
Till he appeared and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!
Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born
Oh night divine
Oh night divine
Hands down my favorite Christmas song, I love when someone can REALLY sing it. My favorite is Billy Gilman, he is amazing! He belts it out here, live, at Disney back in 2000. I think he is 22 now so he was 12 in this clip...wow, his mom must be proud!
So, I wish all my sisters and their families a peaceful and divine Christmas eve, may our hearts be filled with gladness at the birth of our Lord and Savior!
Chocolate Hazelnut Spirals
In keeping with the cookie extravaganza of this week, here are the recipes I made for the cookie exchange. I made half of the recipe for The Chocolate Hazelnut cookies gluten free for sister S using the flour she gave us. They have Nutella in them along with ground hazelnuts. I found the hazelnuts, bagged, in the baking aisle right with the walnuts and pecans etc. I was actually surprised to find them so easily, I had visions of having to buy them whole and crack them open (you're right, I just would have picked a different recipe!) Anyway, then I ground them in my coffee grinder. I figured if a little nut-dust was left in the grinder it would just become hazelnut coffee (I'm a genius, I tell you, a genius!).
The other cookie I made was Orange and Chocolate Spritz Cookies and that was just because I wanted to play with my Pampered Chef Cookie Press (LOVE that thing!!).
Orange and Chocolate Spritz
1 cup softened butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp orange extract
1 tsp freshly grated orange zest
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
Heat oven to 375*. Combine butter and sugar, beat until creamy. Add egg, extract and zest, beat until well mixed. Reduce speed to low and add flour and salt. Beat until well mixed. Place dough in cookie press and form shapes 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Sprinkle with coarse grain sugar if desired. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until set. remove to wire rack and cool completely. Melt 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips until smooth. Drizzle melted chocolate over cooled cookies if desired. Yield: 3 1/2 dozen
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Dear Blog Readers,
Please let me tell you about my favorite Christmas cookie. It was first introduced to me by my mother-in-law and quickly became my favorite cookie of the season. I would look forward to the box of cookies that she would give us each year and try to nab all my favorites. I would even go so far as to make a "deal" with my husband that if I didn't eat his caramel oatmeal chewies, he would leave my Scandinavian Almond Bars alone. Oh! yes! that is their name, and I've shared the recipe with you below!
1 3/4 Cups All-Purpose Flour
2 Teaspoons Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1/2 Cup Butter or Margarine
1 Cup Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Almond Extract
1/2 Cup Sliced Almonds
Stir together flour, baking powder and salt. In a large mixer bowl, beat butter or margarine till softened. Add sugar and beat till fluffy. Add egg and almond extract and beat well. Add flour mixture and beat till well mixed.
Divide dough into fourths. From each into a 12 inch roll. Place 2 rolls 4-5 inches apart on an un-greased cookie sheet. Flatten till 3 inches wide.
Brush flattened rolls with milk and sprinkle with almonds. Bake at 325 for 12-14 minutes or till edges are lightly browned. While cookies are still warm, cut them crosswise at a diagonal into 1-inch strips. Cool. Drizzle with Almond Icing
1 Cup Powdered sugar
1/4 Teaspoon Almond Extract
Milk (enough to make the icing of drizzling consistency
Enjoy!!! I didn't take any pictures during the baking process, but I did receive some nice feed back about how the cookies came out!!
Do you remember the magnets we were making a few weeks ago? I managed to use some of the extra scrap-booking paper to decorate some empty boxes and I am going to use those as the gift boxes when I give them out. They came out so cute! They perfectly hold 4 magnets.
♥J described the cookie exchange perfectly in her post earlier this week. I can't say enough about having such wonderful encouraging friends who you know will pray for you and lift you up day by day! So thankful for all my wonderful friends, near and far. :)
Not wanting to deviate from the theme however, I wanted to share what I learned this year about cookie exchange packaging. Because, let's be honest. Sometimes it IS what's on the outside that counts....in this case at least.
So, below is my easy-to-follow, no-fail, six-step guide to memorable and delectable Christmas cookie packaging. Hopefully next year I will really be able to raise the bar using these tips instead of solely relying on a store bought Martha Stewart brand! I did raise the bar from my packaging last year, but I can always do better!
#1. A Catchy Container
You can use a Christmas box, a bell jar, a fancy Chinese take-out box, a tin, (even a Martha Stewart basic box is a good place to start!). At the 7Sisters cookie exchange, the containers were as different as we are! Not only is your pretty container a great way to present your cookies, but the giftee can re-use it in their decorating the next year, store Christmas ornaments in it, etc. etc. And using a pretty container doesn't mean you have to break the bank. You can find these for as little as a dollar at craft stores, particularly if you wait till closer to Christmas Day when everything is marked off! The Dollar Tree is a great place to find tins, and if you were feeling really creative, you could even buy the plain brown cardboard boxes found at craft stores for cheap and mod-podge them!
#2. Ribbon Wrap
Whether you tie it in a big bow on top, or a simple knot to the side, a pretty piece of ribbon always gets things looking more festive. And it doesn't even have to be ribbon either! Get creative and use some Christmas colored string or thread. If you crochet or knit, save your scraps or leftover skeins and use those to decorate your cookie container!
Nel had the most beautiful red birds on her fancy take-out boxes that matched her tags, it was so sweet! She used her cricut machine, but you could use anything from a pretty sticker, to a sweet monogram chipboard letter, to a fancy jingle bell tied to the ribbon. Whatever says "hi, this cookie box is from me, and you'd probably be able to guess it without me even signing my name" :)
#4. Tag it
#4 ties in with #3 and may even be synonymous in some cases. Take Mar for example, her personalization was all about the gift tag. She painstakingly printed and cut out each of our blog monikers to use on her tags! I can tell it's from her from how she tied on her ribbon (more on that below), and it was in a very sweet tin. If you have gorgeous handwriting like many of the sisters you can hand write your tags, but if you're more like me with a hideous Hancock, you could go the Mar route and print your tags! Don't stop there though, you can mount the tag on pretty paper, or even some shiny tin foil backed by some sturdy cardstock! Remember, your tag and your personalization is going to be your handmade stamp on the cookie package. Make it memorable! (It's funny that I'm thinking of this all now, after the fact, I could have done much better on my boxes - I will blame part of it on an unforeseen size issue of the first Martha boxes I got and then being in a flurry to put them together 15 min before the cookie exchange! eek! Better luck next year, I WILL top myself!)
#5. Ease of Opening
Ok, so you probably weren't expecting this category, but consider this; you receive a beautifully packaged cookie container from a friend. It looks SO beautiful that you imagine you would just faint at the sight of the cookies that could be inside. But it's so tied down with ribbon that you can't! What to do?! That's why I've included this category. After all, when you get right down to it, it IS about the cookies. Right? Or am I contradicting myself now? Anyway....As you can see from the photo on the left above, Mar had an ingenious idea for her ribbon (and also cost-saving as well, since you use less ribbon in this scenario!)- she tucked the ribbon under the top of the tin and taped it to the underside to keep it in place. Genius! The packages this year were great on this category, the jars were so easy to open and take a look at, the boxes and tins opened in a flash, allowing for easy drooling onto the cookies, and etc!
#6. Cookie Presentation
So, your giftee just easily opened your cookie container after oogling the packaging. But what do they find? Why, perfectly placed cookies, of course! Use mini cupcake sleeves to hold fudge, and as ♥J did, wrap candies in wax paper. Stagger your cookies if they are in a box to allow for easy and delicious viewing upon opening. Throw some Hershey Kisses in the mix if you have some gaps. Add pretty tissue paper to the bottom, and make sure to use wax paper between layers if you think your cookies will stick together! Be careful about putting strong contrasting flavors together (such as mint fudge and chocolate chip cookies- the chips in the cookies will take on the mint flavor). My Martha Stewart boxes were nice and deep, and I had some extra room after I put the top piece of tissue paper on, so I folded a lovely origami ornament to place on the top of the tissue paper, to be a surprise, and the first thing seen when opening my box!
Speaking of being all wrapped up, the poor Marshmallow had an incident with a pesky icicle and a persistent licker. He is healing quickly, but could use a little love this week.
Did anyone else participate in a cookie exchange this Christmas season? If so, please feel free to link to a photo/blog in the comments, I would LOVE to see and gather more ideas! I sure do need em to keep up with my sisters! :)
Merry Christmas Eve Eve Eve!!
Monday, December 20, 2010
*1 3/4 cup confectioners sugar
*3 tbs pure maple syrup
*3 tbs water
* 4 1/2 cups flour
This year we had to make our Christmas tree childproof since little E is only 10 months old. So instead of putting any bulbs on the tree, we did pine cones and gingerbread men, this is how it turned out. Little L thinks its the prettiest tree ever! Children are so precious.
Sunday, December 19, 2010
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed light-brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 cup confectioners sugar