No presents this year. A lot of people I know are staying home, having romantic little Christmastimes alone this year. Sometimes things out of our control (like the economy) can force us to remember what times like these are really about...
Crafts and treats and surprising friends!!
I vowed no presents, but I didn't say I would give random people random little home made treats, just because (wink).
My dear friend Alison and her sweetheart Brent reportedly had a somewhat bare Christmas tree this year. As it is their first Christmas together, they hadn't yet accumulated many decorations. So I had a fun idea.
At the local dollar store I picked up some candy and some plain Styrofoam ball ornaments. Above are Nerds hot glued to a ball in a random pattern. Nerds were one of Alison's favorite candies as a child.
I had some wire that I bent and used to secure 3 Reese's cups together in a stack. The Reese's were for Brent's sweet tooth.
CJ's favorite candy were the dinner mints his grandpa used to give him. I still had some of this wire mesh left over from school project, ahem, 6 years ago.
If you try this yourself, just be very careful. That wire mesh can slice right through flesh!
My SmoreMan's smile ran a little. My advice: Don't use a sharpie for his smile. Instead, use black bead or pins like I did for his eyes and buttons. He now looks a bit like a blood thirsty SmoreMan.
I had a box of liquid polymer coating left over from another project I did a few years ago. So I dipped all my candy creations into the plastic to help preserve them longer.
Gummy initials dipped pretty well, but they didn't solidify as much as I would expect. They are however smooth and not sticky.
The plastic was going really far and I ran out of things to dip! So I strung some lifesavers I found at the back of the cupboard onto a string and dipped them.
The Nerd Ball worked out very well.
What I learned: Don't dip anything waxy or greasy. Laffy Taffy didn't hold the plastic. As it dried, the plastic oozed off and didn't coat the taffy much at all. I'm hoping Alison can spray some lacquer on it, but if it goes in the garbage I'll understand.
Also, my Smore Men worked about half way. The marshmallow worked although was a lot softer than I thought. The chocolate was too greasy and didn't hold all the plastic either. The reason the Reese's worked was because the sides were paper, and the plastic pooled on top of the chocolate.
I packed them up with some old ornaments that we bought for our first tree when we got married, that have slowly been replaced with homemade or gifted ornaments. I sent them away with a little note. I just got an email from her with the following pictures! (She's quite the photographer, isn't she!)
We had a delicious Thanksgiving! Every part of the meal was amazing, thanks to Marie and Kelly. I brought the pies, and they turned out well too!
But as soon as Thanksgiving is over, I can't wait to use my long weekend to decorate for Christmas. Fall to winter, in one weekend:
My mantel usually supports my antique camera collection. I moved the cameras to the bookshelf, and set up my Christmas village on the mantel instead. My favorite part of the village are the docks, and the Fish Co.
This is the actual recipe I used for those cookies. In the last update I linked to the wrong recipe, thinking it was Ghirardelli chips that I had used. I found out that it was NOT the right one when I made a second batch, and they turned out something like this picture I found when I googled "flat chocolate chip cookies":
I went to the store and found the bag of chips I actually used, Guittard. I'm curious to try the recipe again and see if they turn out so well again.
I bought these cookie cutters in a mini baking set for children at True Value Hardware when I was 6.
They make perfect little gingerbread men!
I got a new piping bag, and had fun giving my cookies clothes. I think the men with neckties are my favorite.
I made about 8 dozen cookies! I ended up giving most of them away. When will I learn?
I used this recipe for the sugar cookies. There are two recipes on that page, and I used the first for both the frosting and the cookies. The only exception: I used half butter, half Crisco in the frosting.
The recipe for the chocolate chip cookies was from the bag of chips that I used. My mom said they were the best she'd ever had!
A little off topic, I know, but I handle my busy schedule by being very organized. I have fun with it, and color code everything. Friday night I finished up all my work and my desk looked so pretty and colorful I had to take a picture.
Have you ever seen the episode of I Love Lucy called Sales Resistance? The part I remember the most was her inability to resist the salesman's pitch for the Handy Dandy Kitchen Helper. It was a cylindrical container with a crank on the side. All one had to do was throw in a potato, turn the dial to the desired setting (hashbrowns, fries, baked potato), crank the handle, open the door, and magically out comes the sliced and diced vegetable! Of course when she got it home, every setting seemed to be for baked potato!
A week or two ago, I saw a live demonstration at the grocery store for what was a dead ringer for the Handy Dandy Kitchen Helper. I got a free gift for watching, an apple corer. And if I bought the gadget I got another gift. I'm not sure what to call it. It cuts, zests, carves, etc.
Yes, I bought it.
But unlike Lucy, when I got it home, I got it to work!
The apple corer was maybe nothing new, but made making an apple pie a lot more fun.
The serrated device with no name cut open the pumpkin very nicely. I haven't used it again yet though...
Apple pie, recipe from simplyrecipes.com. I decided to try a dutch apple topping this time. It was good, but didn't turn out as crisp as I expected.
And, now the glimpse of the gadget that sliced the apples:
I don't care if its silly, I love it! Look what else it can do!!
And it took me a only a few minutes altogether!
And finally, a picture of my cat dressed for halloween, and my front porch dressed for halloween:
To me, pumpkins have personalities and attitudes. Whenever I pick out a pumpkin, I try to pick one with a pleasant attitude. Today, I found the cutest pumpkin with the sweetest attitude I've ever met. I had to eat him.
http://simplyrecipes.com is my favorite website for trying new recipes. Quality pictures are posted, and any recipe is tried and true. I'm not afraid to dive into a new concoction that I find here.
I butchered my cute little sugar pumpkin and cut it up into chunks that I steamed in a pot on the stove. While I waited for its delicious insides to get soft and gooey, I made the crust and started the rest of the filling.
The pumpkin actually smelled just like zucchini as I scooped it out of it skin into the blender. It amazes me that someone thought it would be a good pie filling.
Right now, I'm killing time while I wait for it to cook....