Sunday, December 30, 2012

Cookie Building


The Christmas season just wouldn't be quite the same without our gingerbread creations. 
We tried some new things this year, and as you can see, we needed to be sure we had a nice, sturdy icing for it...
I found a fantastic recipe on --
Beat together on high for 7-10 minutes: 1 lb. confectioner's sugar, 3 egg whites & 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar.
We use sealable plastic bags with a tiny bit of the corner snipped off as pastry bags.
Can you spot Santa Bear on the roof?
Teddy Bears sledding?
Bears caroling around the Christmas tree?
Away in a Gingerbread

To get all these cookies to stand up, I made paper templates for stands.  Using the cookie cutter height as my guide, I cut triangles and labeled them.  Some templates could be used for multiple cookies.  People got one stand each, animals got two.

I got better & better at it as I went along.  This was the winning combination -- so fast & easy once I figured it out!
Hold your cookie in the correct spot & pipe a line of icing where the base of the stands will go.   

Remove the cookie and pipe icing where stands will touch the back of the cookie, as well as on the bottom of the cookie, where it will touch your plate.

Place your cookie in front of the piped lines on your plate.
Place a plain, uniced stand on the plate & against the cookie.

Repeat with the second stand.
This icing recipe made it very sturdy once it dried.
It's definitely the one we'll use next year.
(And, now I'll know where to find it, too.  My gift from me, to me.)
Happy creating!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Finding Inspiration

What inspires writing at your house?
Chanukah, Winter Solstice and Christmas gave Sela cause to pick up her pen(cil).

As we all begin to pack away our decorations for another year, I send you wishes for celebration and inspiration in 2013.

Happy Chanukah
Happy Chanukah,
Happy Chanukah,
While candles bright are burning
Happy Chanukah to you!

Candles, candles, burning bright,
How lovely you look on a dark winter's night.
Candles, candles, show your light,
Oh, what a beautiful, beautiful sight.

Snowy Acrostic
Soft and cold
       Not bad, but great
              Out of nowhere it falls
           White and wonderful
 Yay for snow!


Christmas Carols (haiku)
Short, long, high or low
Christmas carols are great fun
To sing along to

Hanging by the fireplace,
On Christmas to them there's a race,
Filled to the top with games and toys,
All of these are Christmas joys!

Mistletoe, mistletoe, over the door
Walk under again and
I'll kiss you some more!

Christmas Haiku
Christmas is a time
Of happiness, love & joy
The world celebrates!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Christmas Cookies

Christmas Cookies (a haiku)
by Sela
Alone or with friends
Baking delicious cookies
Is always super

pecan logs
1 cup butter, softened
5 Tbsp confectioners' sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans
confectioners' sugar

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Beat in vanilla.  Add flour, beating on low speed just until combined.  Stir in pecans.  Cover & chill for 30 minutes.
Shape 1/2 cupfuls into 1/2-inch thick logs.  Cut logs into 2-inch pieces.  Place 2 inches apart on baking sheets.  Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes.  Roll warm cookies in confectioners' sugar.

A simple way to chop nuts it to put them in a bag and roll them with a rolling pin!

from Taste of Home Holiday: Christmas Cookies & Candies


Monday, December 24, 2012

Mother's Work

I always love some quiet time at the end of the day,
when everyone is asleep but me.
I can't help but hear the famous line,
"not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse."
I love this all year round.
When everything is still, I can REALLY take in the beauty of our day,
our home, my children, in a way that's a little less, well, a little less like herding cats.
Recently, we read Peter Pan.  I connected with it in a way I hadn't expected.  Early on, Barrie writes this:
Mrs. Darling first heard of Peter when she was tidying up her children's minds.  It is the nightly custom of every good mother after children are asleep to rummage in their minds and put things straight for the next morning, repacking into their proper places the many articles that have wandered during the day.  If you could keep awake (but of course you can't) you would see your own mother doing this, and you would find it very interesting to watch her.  It is quite like tidying up drawers.  You would see her on her knees, I expect, lingering humourously over some of your contents, wondering where on earth you had picked this thing up, making discoveries sweet and not so sweet, pressing this to her cheek as if it were as nice as a kitten, and hurriedly stowing that out of sight.  When you wake in the morning, the naughtiness and evil passions with which you went to bed have been folded up small and placed at the bottom of your mind; and on the top, beautifully aired, are spread out your prettier thoughts, ready for you to put on.

In December, these maps of the minds Barrie describes, these Neverlands, spill over into little vignettes around the house. 
And a sleeping house reveals things like this --
tucked beneath our big tree, a tiny little tree with tiny little
presents wrapped with care for softies and dolls.
I can feel her sweet heart, lying right there on top.

A Griswald's Christmas Tree

I learned something new this Christmas.  I didn't really want to learn it at the particular moment I learned it, but...
We went to the mountains and chose our tree.  We cut our tree, strapped it to the top of the car, stopped for a warm, cozy dinner on the way home.  Lovely.  (Did I mention there was a tree farm pie shop involved?)
Tree goes in the stand, DH goes out to buy new lights (another story altogether, but that's for another day), I put the lights on the tree.  I run out of lights.  I send DH out for more lights.  At this point, I'm in it too deep to turn back, but wonder if I should really have 1400 lights on the tree.  Well, I've made my bed and now I'm going to have to lie in it.  We do love how the tree looks after it's finished.
We drag out the ornament box, kids are giddy to get their hands on the ornaments and start decorating(fairly spazzy, to be completely honest). Sela plugs in the cord... GASP!  OOOO!  AAAAAH!  And then... total darkness.  Silence.
I want to dissolve into a puddle.  Or run from the room.  But, my sweet little ones have been waiting, waiting.  I have no choice but to solve the mystery of why the lights went out and fix it.
Did you catch the clue?  I said Sela plugged in "THE" cord.  Now I'm remembering something about "you're not supposed to connect too many light strands together."  Hmmm.  So, probably 8 is too many?  I'm remembering "fuses." Something about changing blown fuses.  Good thing I have always compulsively saved all those tiny fuses even though I never had any intention of dealing with them.
Turns out, it's so easy.  So, a gift from me to you this season: How to Change a Fuse, or How to Avoid the Griswalds' Christmas at Your House.
I went to the source of all current know-how and found a YouTube clip on the subject.
How to get the tiny fuse box open?! It slides DOWN.
Pop out the fuse with your tiny screwdriver.
Press the new fuse in with the flat side of your tiny screwdriver.
So, save your fuses and bulbs, people. Get yourself a cute little box & locate your tiny screwdriver. Keep them handy, and you'll be set for the light mishaps.  (Oh, and maybe pick up a few extension cords.)

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Sweet Dreams

The inexpensive tension rod that usually acts as
our homemade doorway puppet theatre
got a makeover this season.
Hanging in Sela's doorway, it's a bit like having
visions of sugarplums dance in her head
as she falls asleep.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The Beauty is in the Details

I was rushing by the dollhouse when something caught my eye. Was this a deliberate set-up? I had to slow down and go back.  Tucked in the back, in front of two dolls rolling a ball between them and a baby sleeping on the bed, here sat two friends, reminding me: Slow Down.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Sigh : )

I haven't been on my blog in a while.
I miss my blog.
Really miss my blog.
I've been trying to get back here.
I have thought about how to re-enter,
how to describe why I've been away --
without whining, complaining, raaaaaambling...
Life is so busy lately.
So busy.
And, not really related to the holidays (though they add another layer).
Last night, I walked around the corner from the kitchen to see this --

This kind of sums up why I don't have time for much lately.