Christmas Cookies

I love cookies – would rather have them over cakes, pies or chocolate.  But I don’t like to bake.  I’ll cook “real food” all day long, but baking takes a level of patience, and a bunch of messy, sticky ingredients, that I’d rather not tackle.

But the image of Christmas cookies and the smell of someone baking in the house go hand in hand with my Christmas Fantasy.  So I decided I wanted some cookies this year.  I even orchestrated a cookie exchange at work (Partly as a way to ensure that I have lots of cookies), but that reward requires I also provide some cookies.  So, I’m baking cookies – and if you’re Baking Cookies you may as well do 2 or 3, right?  So here goes.

Well the Christmas cookie I usually bake requires no baking.  It also has an ingredient that works for me, liquor.  I often make rum balls for Christmas.  I usually make them the day after Thanksgiving, and put them in a can to ferment until close to Christmas.  Ummmm good.  So, a couple weeks ago, I did my rum balls and they are just waiting to eat.  But I realized if I’m going to give those away, I need to make another batch.

One of my favorite cookies are Mexican Wedding Cakes, which I’ve never made.  I’ve always had someone in the office who made them.  So, I decided it was time for me to learn how to make those myself.  So, I googled it!  (My new best friend  lol).  Found several receipes – will have to give that a try.

Finally, my BFF Jennifer, who does bake, gave me several receipes that are suppose to be simple and easy, and a big hit.  So today is baking day – I have all the ingredients out and ready to go.

Right off the Bat - Too Much Stuff

So I started, I made a BAR cookie.  Simple enough, a cookie crush, nuts and a candy topping.  It went fairly well.  Didn’t take too long.  I didn’t heed Jen’s one warning not to let it cool too long before you take it out the pan and cut it.  It’s a lot harder later.  I went and watched a movie, before cutting it – so I had a little issue.

If you like sweet and/or candy you will love these.  They are a dentist’s dream.  But they are tasty.  I cut them into tiny squares, and put them in a tin to share.

Next thing was fudge – another thing that I like in small doses, but I find too sweet to eat much of.  Don’t know how easy this was, the fudge set up and starts to harden way to quickly for my pace.  But I did manage to get it in the pan, for what is suppose to look like a wreath upon presentation.  We’ll see.  (Several days later – I decided that I was not taking it in wreath form, and cut it into slices to put in goodie bags for my co-workers)

Finally I made chocolate bark.  It is colorful, and very pretty.  Like the fudge, chocolate hardens, and all while I’m trying to add stuff to it, like nuts, peppermint candy canes, and pretzels.  It’s cooling for real now, so we’ll have to see how it turns out.

(Follow-up:  This turned out real good.  The White Chocolate was the best.  I will add this to my Christmas list of things to keep.)

After all this, what I realize, is I still don’t really have any cookies?!?!?!   So, I guess I have another day of baking to go.  Otherwise the office will get the old Fake & Bake.

Well, I got the ingredients for my Mexican Wedding Cakes, and put those together.  They weren’t bad,  fairly straight forward, easier than the fudge, in my opinion.  So I baked, while sampling and tweeking my Christmas Sangria.  I was up to 3:00 a.m.  But I got all the various goodies into the bags and ready to take to work.

So my final assessment, is it took me about 3 days to do all this.  My kitchen is still a wreck , with sugar and sprinkles all over the floor.  Baking takes lots of utensils.  Bowls, spoons cookie sheets  aauuuggh!  Lastly when I got through, I was almost sugared out be fore I started.  So I may have to save a few to have my own personal cookie day next week.

But they were all a big hit – and I found 2 items that I will keep and add to the Christmas Tradition – But really folks I’m done baking for another couple years.

Eat Drink and be Merry

4 Days til Christmas

12 Days til New Years

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Published in: on December 21, 2011 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Wish List – These are a few of my Favorite things!

Christmas Shopping – this is usually what stresses people out.  Now if we would all just prepare our wish list like we use to do for Santa, life for our loved ones would be easier.  (And you wouldn’t have to look so disappointed on Christmas morning).   This is a good tradition that you can institute with your children and families.

My kids use to start in November, looking through the toys r us ads  My daughter, the oldest, use to cut out pictures of stuff and tape them on paper to give to me early.  She then proceeded to organize her 3 younger brothers with their list.  It was a project for them that had them looking in the Sunday paper for the ads, and at least a hour of occupied activities.  I then had a list and pictures to take to the store.  It was wonderful.

So, here we go, I challenge you to make your Christmas Wish List.  Just a few of your favorite things.  It also gives me something to do, so I can do my Christmas Shopping, and refuse the urge to shop for myself.

Movies –  You all know I love movies.  I spend Christmas Day at the theater, watching the new releases.  So Movie Passes are always a good gift for me.  Also movies to add to my DVD collection.  A few that I want to add are:  Waiting to Exhale,  American President and Grey’s Anatomy Season 7.

Gift Cards -This is an easy f ix these days, espeically for last minute shoppers.  It wonderful, that grocery stores now have a large selection for us all to choose from.  The nice thing about gift cards, is that in January or any other time when I am low on money, I can treat myself, with a meal, or a little shopping trip, that brightens my day and reminds me of the person who thought enough of me to buy me something. For me – these are just a few of my favorite places  – and Gift Cards work just fine!

Starbucks –  I can always enjoy a Grande something, either in the morning, or on a sunny afternoon sitting outside, using wi-fi.

Amazon – I have a kindle and am a avid reader.  An Amazon gift card, helps keep me in books, and it also is a good source for me to get some of my DVD’s to add to my collection.

Red Lobster – I love Red Lobster, and I often treat myself to a treat of theseafood, and of course bisquits.

My favorite everyday store is TARGET.  I can browse through there for hours, and it is never a problem finding something I want – from clothes, to household stuff.  This is always a winner with me!

Last but not least – This girl always loves shoes.  DSW – a DSW gift card will get squeals of delight.  Cause nothing says Merry Christmas like shoes.  :  )

So relax, you now know what will bring a smile to my face and I’m sure you have some ideas for the last minute people on your list.  But next year get there wish list early.  Now relax and have some Egg Nog, Christmas is almost here.

5 Days til Christmas

13 Days til 2012

Published in: on December 20, 2011 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Movie – The Preachers Wife

This week Christmas Movie was The Preacher’s Wife.  Another great story of  the magic of Christmas.  A great cast starring Denzel Washington, Whitney Houston, Courtney Vance, and Loretta Devine.  There’s a small part that Lionel Richie plays.  With Lionel Richie and Whitney Houston, this movie also has a great soundtrack.  The Mississippi Mass Choir is also featured.

This story is told from the view of a little boy.  This is what makes the movie magical.  The imagination and faith of a child, shows us all what the spirit of Christmas is about.  One of the closing lines in the movie says it all.

“Just because you can’t see the air, doesn’t stop you from breathing.  Just because you can’t see God, doesn’t stop you from believing!”  His dad, who is the preacher, response is. . . “Son, that’s what we call Faith!”

So, in the season of hustle and bustle, remember the reason for the season, is love, hope, faith and belief in the many kindnesses and love that we are suppose to be celebrating.

Movie Challenge Update:  6 Movies

6 Days til Christmas

Published in: on December 19, 2011 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Trimming the Tree to

Christmas Countdown is into the home stretch.  As usual, though I’ve been planning since November 1st, it still has found a way to sneak up on me.  I have so many Christmas Blogs that I didn’t post.  But for the next week,  EVERY Day, I’m determine to get something up here.  So . . . .

8 Days til Christmas

14 Days til the New Year!

If you haven’t gotten out to look at lights, and the only Christmas Trees and decorations you’ve seen have been in the mall.  Take a few minutes and enjoy the slide show of Christmas Trees.  If yours is not up yet, this weekend would be a good time.

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Happy Holidays – Enjoy

Published in: on December 17, 2011 at 10:26 am  Leave a Comment  
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Happy Hour @ 1102 – Egg Nog Martini

Ingredients

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin-pie spice, plus more for garnish
  • 8 cups whole milk
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 3 cups brandy

Directions

  1. Set a large fine-mesh sieve over a large bowl. Place bottom of bowl in an ice bath; set aside. Off heat, in a medium saucepan, whisk together sugar, cornstarch, nutmeg, and pumpkin-pie spice. Gradually whisk in 4 cups milk, taking care to incorporate the cornstarch. Whisk in egg yolks.
  2. Whisking constantly, cook over medium heat until the first large bubble sputters, 10 to 12 minutes. Reduce heat to low; cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute more. Remove from heat; immediately pour through sieve into bowl. Stir in remaining 4 cups milk. Let cool completely in bowl still set in ice bath.
  3. Just before serving, stir in brandy, and ladle into glasses; garnish with pumpkin-pie spice.
Published in: on December 16, 2011 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Movie – The Santa Clause

A Movie that answers all the magic of Christmas for anyone who wants to believe.   I love this movie, on so many levels.  There is a comedic level that appeals to adults and a wonderful story of Santa Claus for kids.

Charlie, the adorable child of divorced parents is struggling with his two dads different beliefs in Santa Claus.  To not spoil the story for those who haven’t seen it, I’ll  just focus on the magic that we can take from the movie.   In a conversation between Judy the Elf and Scott Calvin a.k.a. Santa Claus, Judy sums up what we all need to remember about the magic of Christmas.

Judy the Elf: “Most grownups can’t believe in magic – It just sort of grows out of them. 

SC:  I see it, but I don’t believe it.

Judy:  You’re missing the point.  Seeing isn’t believing,  believing is seeing.  Kids don’t have to see this place (the North Pole)  to know that it’s here.  They just . . . know.

So take a few moments this holiday season, and just BELIEVE.  Enjoy the magic, have some fun – and watch a great Movie. Remember –   Just because you haven’t seen it doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist!

I highly recommend this movie! 

Movie Challenge update:  5 Movies

2 weeks til Christmas

Published in: on December 11, 2011 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Happy Hour @ 1102 – Candy Cane Martini

 

Ingredients

  • 1 candy cane, crushed, for garnish
  • 2 ounces strawberry vodka
  • 4 dashes white creme de menthe
  • 2 1/2 ounces cranberry juice
  • Ice cubes

Directions

  1. Place crushed candy canes on a small plate or saucer. Wet the outside rim of a chilled martini glass with water. Holding the glass by the stem, rotate the rim to coat with candy.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine vodka, creme de menthe, cranberry juice, and ice; shake until well combined. Strain into prepared glass; serve immediately.
Published in: on December 9, 2011 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Movies – Holiday Movies

After Christmas last year I was in a store, and saw this little  4 pack of  holiday movies.  It was cheap and I thought , “Oh this will be nice to add to my Christmas Collection.”   I bought it for $4.99, put it in my Christmas box and forgot about it!

Last week as I was waiting for Netflix to deliver my next batch of movies, I brought out my Christmas bargin from last year.  I looked at the titles not really recognizing any of them.  They each had at least one actor/actress that I recognized.  The blurb on the back did nothing to let me know if I was going to like them or not.  So with nothing else to watch, I popped them in and started watching.

 As they started I thought, this is kind of cheesy, but as they played through, and I went about my day, I realized these were the perfect movies to be playing in the background as you baked cookies or decorated the tree.  During the week I watched them all.  They each have a feel good aspect, a change of heart or attitude, a Christmas miracle or two, and a whole lot of  love and family.

So I wholeheartedly recommend adding these to your collection.  I can see looking at these year after year as a comfortable old favorite.  With a cup of hot chocolate or a warm Chai Toddy, curled up on the couch enjoying the holiday!

3 weeks – 21 Days til Christmas

How many Christmas Movies or Special can you get in?   Challenge – I’ve now got 4 and Counting.  Keep up if you can!

29 Days til 2012

Published in: on December 4, 2011 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Traditions

Every Culture, Every Holiday, Every Family has traditions.

It is those traditions and memories that make us feel all warm and fuzzy about the holidays .  But , I’m gong to encourage you to create a new tradition for your family. 

One of the things I started last year, is my Christmas Puzzle.  I bring it out the day after Thanksgiving and set it up on my coffee table.  I work on it a little everyday, or when I’m sitting watching TV.   The goal was to see if I could finish it by Christmas.  It helps past the time and counts down to the holidays.  This is a good past time, if you have Children.  It uses their mind and gets them from in front of the TV or video game.  It also helps past the days that they are anxiously waiting for Christmas.

Last year I finished my puzzel at least 2 weeks before Christmas.  So this year I bought another one.  I’m starting it today, and I guess I will be trying to finish them both before Christmas.  It’s a nice thing to share with any company you have, over the holiday – Because anyone can join in.

Share any Christmas Traditions you and your family celebrate.  It’s all about sharing good feelings and time with those you love. 

Day 1 of Puzzle – Check back for Progress

28 Days til Christmas

36 Days til 2012

Published in: on November 27, 2011 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Black Friday

Black Friday – The day after Thanksgiving where American retailers have turned what could have been a civilized and relaxing day into a crazed frenzy.  Just my opinion!   I do realize there are some people who live to stand in line, camp outside a closed store door in the cold, leave the Thanksgiving feast early to take a nap so that they can get up at the “crack of dawn” or earlier, midnite, to fight for the 3 extremely low priced items that stores have used to bait you out of  your warm home, and into their stores.  Ooooookkkkk,  I’m venting a little, partly because I work in retail, and though I’m sitting here writing now.  In a few hours, I will be serving the public to 9:00 p.m. tonite.

So enough on that.  If you are home and need something else to do.  Let stay in our festive mood.  Thanksgiving is over – 1 down 2 holidays to go.  Christmas is just a month away.  Let’s be a little more domestic.  Today is good for cleaning the house. You don’t have to cook, you have all those Thanksgiving leftovers.  Then bring out the Christmas decoration.  If not the tree the little stuff, like  . . . My Christmas coffee mug.  My Christmas Dish towels.  My Christmas Glasses.  The little things that help make the holidays special.

Another task I like to do on Black Friday is address my Christmas Cards.  Yes, Christmas Cards!  I am old school like that.  I don’t mail anything the rest of the year.  I don’t even know what a postage stamp cost today.  But I will be sending out Christmas Cards.  For me there is nothing like going to the mailbox in December, and getting a envelop that doesn’t have a clear window with your name in it.

Christmas Traditions – there are many things to do that help you count down and get ready for the holidays.  This time should be fun and festive.  Embrace it enjoy it.  Baking, Decoration your tree, Holiday Movies, Festival of Lights, Hanukkah gifts,  or Zwanza Celebrations.  Wow there is so much we will have to talk about in the next 30 days.  Lots of Post ideas.

Finally – I know this is a

Happy Hour @ 1102 Day

I don’t have a prepared cocktail for today.  I would suggest a good bottle of wine though.  But the next 5 Fridays there are some awesome holiday cocktails, that I’ve found.  So take a break and if you must go out,  head to the liquor store to stock up for your liquor cabinet.  Vodka, Rum, Brandy, Bailey’s – this list goes on.  All that cleaning and decorating – I’m going to need a cocktail. 

Classic Mojito

Enjoy your holiday weekend – Back to serious holiday blogging tomorrow! 

 

Published in: on November 25, 2011 at 9:33 am  Leave a Comment