Sunday, December 21, 2008

Santa's Cookies

Today was our annual cookie baking day so Santa would not go hungry on Christmas Eve.

Carter has been counting down the days until my parents would come over to get the annual tradition underway. He really enjoyed himself and of course his favorite part is covering the cookies with sprinkles. I stopped counting how many times we had to scrape the 1" of sprinkles off and have him 'do over' his cookies! Here he is making the inaugural first cookie cutout!

Do you like our coordinating aprons, Carter and I? Festive!

Olivia was not so sure about things, and she wanted the dough off of her fingers. She eventually enjoyed the shaking of the sprinkles and we gave her a small jar to shake and that kept her busy. Of course, she would shake once over the cookie dough, then a few times over the side of her chair onto the floor. By the time the jar was empty, most of it was on the floor. I gave up and just let her do it - the vacuum was close by! She mistakenly put a hunk of dough in her mouth and was not happy about it - then she refused an actual cookie that was baked because she thought it was the uncooked dough again. Hopefully she'll forget that experience tomorrow and enjoy a cookie! Here she is with my Mom...

She is not feeling so well today. I took her to the Urgent Care this morning and she has a double ear infection and bronchitis. We have Amox., a steroid and albuterol for the 3 x a day nebulizer treatments we have to give her. The medical equipment company came by this afternoon to drop off the machine - at least the guy got some cookies to eat on his way back to the office!

The end result! Can you tell which ones got a touch of sprinkles from a 7 year old?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Makin' Toffee

It's that time of year again, when a lot of us Moms bake goodies for the school staff, specials teachers, bus drivers etc. as a small token of appreciation at the holidays.

Tonight, was Toffee Makin' Night. We love this toffee and it never lasts long because everyone devours it. It's a unique recipe that my mother found years ago and it uses strangely enough, crackers!

It uses 4 ingredients, but it can be a little picky because you need to bring your sugar mixture high enough to crack stage, and not burn it. Or, the one complaint I hear a lot is that it was too chewy - which would mean that the sugar was not cooked to a hard enough stage. I've thankfully made this enough times (and screwed it up just as many before) to know what my sugar is supposed to look like when it's ready to pour.

It's a really easy and quick recipe you should try. Don't let the crackers scare you - no one knows they're in there until you tell them - trust me, the toffee is awesome!

Recipe for Toffee:
1 sleeve Saltine crackers (about 40)
1 pkg. 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 sticks butter
1 C packed brown or regular white sugar
Aluminum foil to line sheet
Crushed pecan pieces or any nut you like (optional)

Heat oven to 375 degrees.
Line a large cookie sheet with foil and place the crackers to fit flat.
Bring butter and sugar to soft boil for 4-5 minutes in heavy saucepan.
Pour mixture over crackers evenly, spread if needed with a knife.
Bake in oven for 5-6 minutes (sugar will bubble and boil)
Remove from oven and sprinkle with chocolate chips.
Put back into oven for 1 minute until chips are softened enough to spread with a knife. (note: chips will appear to hold their shape even when ready to spread)
Sprinkle with nuts if using.
Put into the fridge to harden for 1-2 hours. Break into pieces. Enjoy!

Tip: If I'm making several batches of this, I put them outside on my deck to chill in the winter, instead of taking up fridge space!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

December Sky

Today we had the most gorgeous Indiana sky right before sunset... My camera is usually ready to snap at a moment's notice, so out I went to devour the beauty.

Carter and I sat watching the sky turn all different shades. These are my favorites... one from out front of the house, and one from out back.

He asked, "Who makes that sky do all those colors?"

I answered, "God does. Isn't He nice?"

Saturday, December 6, 2008

More Conversations with a 7 Year Old

Sometimes the conversations in this house don't get beyond a one-word answer. And I'm not talking about the kids...

*Scene* Watching the football game last Sunday

Carter: Daddy, I can see those cheerleader's belly buttons

Hubs: Uh... yep.


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Happy December

Wow - December's here already? I know I say that every year, it still feels like it came upon us so quickly.

The tree is up, and Olivia has already taken every ornament she can reach off and reorganized them. I will be finding ornament hooks in my carpet for years now, because every time she grabs one, the hook is nowhere to be found. My vacuum cleaner is not happy with this arrangement!

We already had our first snow of the season. Not much, just a couple of inches on the ground - enough to make it look pretty without being a nuisance.

Is your shopping done? Mine's not, and I'm very envious of those that shop year round, or have it already completed and can enjoy the rest of the season as it is without the mad dash to the store. I love the whole gift-giving part of Christmas time, but those that know me, know that I hate shopping. It's pretty difficult to avoid this time of year though. So I put on my Merry Best attitude and get it done. My favorite way is sitting right here, in my pajamas, hot cup of coffee or cocoa and the Internet at my fingertips. That's my kind of shopping! No crowds, no arguments from the children, no overheating in my winter coat inside the mall, no long walks in the frigid temps to the car, no traffic. Ah, sweet online shopping!

I like stalking the UPS and FedEx guys for my packages to be delivered too. One of my other favorite things about the gift giving season to do is wrap presents! Oh I love choosing the fun wrapping paper, the bows, pawing through all the surprises for everyone and sticking their tags on the boxes. All of this of course with Christmas music on in the background, the fireplace roaring and yummy smells coming from my Home For The Holidays Yankee candles.

It's beginning to look alot like Christmas - Yay! Carter's already begun the countdown to our annual cookie baking day. It's on Dec. 21st this year, which happens to be the first day of winter and also the start of Hanukkah. He said so excitedly, "Mommy, we'll have to wish everyone a Happy Hanukkah!"....

Do you think all the Non-Jewish will be offended when he says that to people during that week?

I think it's cute - let's celebrate everything right? I suppose it's my job to inform him that not everyone celebrates both Hanukkah and Christmas, but for now the joy it brings him to wish Merriness to all is priceless.