Friday, December 28, 2007

Coming Back Down to Earth

Whew!! Anyone else feel like the rush of the holidays came and went in the bat of an eye and you're just now recovering??? I hope everyone had a great one. I hope you all enjoyed the holidays and the days that followed. I always feel it goes too fast. I really do enjoy the anticipation, and then the day comes, and boom! it's over. But we had a really good one here, and it's now time for me to look at the mess and clean it up. UGH!! It's time to pick up the boxes, any wrapping the kids have squirreled away (they do that), toys, etc., and put them where they need to go--either the garbage, recycle bin, or toy boxes. So that also means I'll be spending the day going through all the toys my kids have and seeing what they want to donate because they don't play with them anymore. I enjoy the "culling of the stash", so to speak, because it means they get organized and cleaned up, but UGH--so much work. I do the same for my husband and myself. What don't we use? What don't we wear? Off it goes to Goodwill!

Does anyone else have this ritual? I can't imagine I'm the only one. I think a lot of us take this time of year to take stock of things and give away and clean up what they don't use anymore and clean up their spaces and look at and be thankful for all they have. I know I find that this is when I really get to look at the gifts we got and feel thankful for all that we have. So I'll be spending my day as such.

I have lots of things to share with all of you--as soon as I'm done tidying up, I'll be posting plenty of pictures, so stay tuned!! I hope you all have a great day today!

Monday, December 24, 2007

Things I have learned from my kids

about the holidays

1. Once a candy cane falls off the tree, it is not good enough to be put back on, and must be eaten IMMEDIATELY. Even if it didn't break. It's obvious it didn't want to be up there in the first place if it just jumps off.

2. More really is more, especially when it comes to lights or decorations. Less is just not enough.

3. Cookies are a perfectly acceptable breakfast. After all, they contain eggs, and wouldn't you eat eggs for breakfast?

4. You really can watch "Arthur's Perfect Christmas" every time it comes on PBS, even if you've seen it 1000 times before in the past week. You never know what might change.

5. Holiday dresses are especially wonderful and should be worn as MANY times as possible before the day you're mother says your supposed to wear it. However, holiday vests and pants are no good at all and should NEVER be worn without a fight.

6. Hot chocolate is the ONLY way to warm up on a cold day.

7. Snow is fun and should be thrown at your mother no matter what time of day it is or where it is she's trying to get you to go.

8. It's perfectly acceptable to sit in the back of the car on a long ride and shout out "Christmas lights!!" every time you see a lit house, even if that means you'd be shouting for a full half hour. Everyone likes to be informed, after all.

9. Cats really DO want to wear those sticky wrapping bows on their necks, even if they run away every time you approach. They are just playing hard to get.

10. One ornament per branch on the tree is for weenies. Every good decorator knows that clustering your accessories is the best way to show them off, so clustering your ornaments is the best way, too. Don't be afraid to put 6, 7, or 8 ornaments on one branch--it can take it, and the effect is so much more full.

Best wishes to all of you for a wonderful holiday! Enjoy your days! See you all soon!

PS--The cookies in the first picture are called Springerle. They take 3 days to make, and are mostly egg whites and powdered sugar and Anise oil. The reason they look like that is that they are pressed with a cookie mold on the second day. It leaves a lovely design.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Ding, dong, I am done! I'm all "cookied up". I thought I'd share some pictures of the bounty. I filled every tin I have and then some. Wow. There is just something about looking at all of that and knowing that it's all going to people you care about and appreciate to make you feel warm inside. That's what the holidays are all about, right?

I enjoyed every minute of the work. Enjoy your day!

Monday, December 17, 2007

Back to the Land of the Living

Ugh. I've been so sick. Finally, though, I am feeling better. The diagnosis from Mom the Nurse is that I had the Flu. Yippee. Time to go get that Flu shot I've been putting off. I don't want a repeat performance of this one, if I can help it.

I started feeling much better Friday, so I jumped back into my "routine" of cooking and baking, because I'm a bit behind at this point. The recipe I would like to share today is called Mexican Hot Chocolate Balls. It is from the Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Cookies magazine from this year. It is a good cookie--not what you'd expect from a cookie, so if you're looking for something a little different and really good, I'd recommend it. It's a hard cookie with a lot of flavors, chocolate and cinnamon and pecans. Usually when I think holiday cookie, I think soft and chewy or hard like a sugar cookie or gingerbread. This is a little harder than that and the flavor is a little more "exotic" and not too sweet. In fact, most of the sugar is on the outside of the cookie. They are delicious! So, without further ado:

Mexican Hot Chocolate Balls

1 cup butter, softened

1 1/4 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 cups flour

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup toasted pecans, finely chopped

1. Preheat oven to 325 F. Beat butter in a large mixing bowl with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Beat in 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1/4 cup cocoa powder, and the vanilla until combined, scraping the side of the bowl occasionally. Bet in as much flower as you can with the mixer. Stir in any remaining flour, 1/2 teaspoon of the cinnamon, and the pecans.

2. Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake in preheated oven for 18 to 20 minutes or until bottoms are lightly browned. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cool completely.

3. Combine remaining 3/4 cup powdered sugar, remaining 1/4 cup cocoa powder, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl. Roll cooled cookies in the sugar mixture. Makes 48.

Enjoy, my friends!

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Sick Again

My mother tells me, laughingly, about how when I went to Kindergarten, I used to bring home every germ known to man to make everyone in my house sick. She says that she called me "Typhoid Mary" until everyone else in my house (meaning my little brothers) all went to school and got the same germs and then no one got as sick anymore, because everyone was exposed all the time to all the same things. I guess this must be my payback, and my own little "Typhoid Mary" has been bringing me home every homeless germ she has been able to find at school and infecting everyone. And me, being exposed to no one except my kids and husband and family occasionally, I get it ALL. So I am sick again. I think this is the third or fourth time since August, and I have to admit the novelty is wearing thin. This one's a doozy, too. I started feeling bad Sunday afternoon, just really achy, you know, and then BAM!! Damn thing broadsided me Sunday night and I could hardly get to bed. I spent all of yesterday laying down, until later in the afternoon/early in the evening, I could finally sit upright. Today I am going so S-L-O-W-L-Y, it's not even funny. I'm proud I'm able to sit upright without being dizzy, but if I could just go up and down the stairs without being winded, I'd be super thrilled.

Anyway, of course, this comes at a time when I need to be busy. I have cleaning to do, there's a tree to get this weekend, and cookies to start baking and candy to start making. Being as though I can't stand for a long period of time, none of this is going to happen until I feel better. I am trying to rush it this time, I am drinking like a crazy person. I'm hoping to "wash" the germs away with copious amounts of water and tea. I'll let you know if it works.

This is what I have been up to since I got "better" (as in enough to sit up straight yesterday). It's a monochrome from that blog, My Aunt's Attic. If you haven't visited, and you like monochromes, definitely do. It's a great resource. I've been there LOTS of times. I'm sorry the picture is all "wrinkly". Going upstairs to iron really is tough right now. The stairs are just knocking me out.

I did this piece with the Soie de Paris threads (they are SO gorgeous) on Flax linen. Speaking of which, I bought the Flax linen and then I compared it to a piece of Raw linen I had bought a while ago, and I don't see a difference! Can anyone tell me if they are the same thing?? They're sold under different names, but they look the same to me. Take a look: The top piece is the "Flax". The bottom is the "Raw". Do you see a difference? I don't. I looked at them in all different types of light, too, and meh, they are the same. So I wonder if I got a mistaken piece of something mislabeled, or there really is no difference after all. If anyone could shed some light, It'd be appreciated.
Well, I sign off for now, at least until I feel a bit better. I really hope to feel better soon. Take care, everyone!

Friday, December 7, 2007

A Virtual Cookie Swap

So, I've been thinking, since my post about cookies. A few of you commented here and told me you do a cookie swap or that you do baking for the holidays. But of course, we're all pretty far away from one another, and shipping cookies, well, doesn't work out so well. So, what about a virtual cookie swap?? Here's my idea:

If you want to participate, post a recipe on your blog, with pictures of the cookies, if you make them. Dress them up or slap them on a plate, whatever your style is. If you don't make them at all this year, but you have in the past and love them, that's great too. We are not picky. Tell why you like the cookies or a story about the cookies. Come back to this post and leave a comment so that we can all go and see what cookies you baked. If you don't have a Blogger account, just leave your blog address. We can all get some great recipes out of it, and I think it will be fun! Sound ok? I will start...

This is a recipe I discovered by accident, when looking for a good chocolate chip cookie recipe. It was on the back of a flour bag, of all things. Most of the ones I have tried make ok cookies, but they go stale pretty quickly, and then go to waste. Since I had just bought a new cookie jar (or mega-tub, which might be more accurate--it's the one on the right) and needed to fill it (sad sight, having an empty cookie jar, no??), I came upon this recipe and tried it. It's a success, and I've used it lots of times. And though I haven't made it for the holidays, I do make it for "everyday". This time, because the holidays are getting close, I added holiday M&Ms instead of chocolate chips (Ooh, I am TOO wild). It came out great again. So I thought I would share it with you. Here it is:

Extraordinary Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/2 cups butter or margarine, softened

1 1/4 cups granulated sugar

1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

2 eggs

4 cups flour (I usually use 3 1/2, because sometimes 4 is too much--I think it depends on the humidity in the room)

2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 bag (24oz) chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 350 F.

2. In a large bowl, beat butter, sugars, vanilla and eggs on medium speed until combined and light and fluffy.

3. Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt. The dough will be stiff.

4. Stir in chocolate chips

5. On an ungreased cookie sheet, drop dough by tablespoonfuls 2 inches apart.

6. Bake 11 to 13 minutes or until light brown. Centers will be soft.

7. Cool 1 to 2 minutes; remove from cookie sheet onto cooling rack

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

These cookies are, as my kids would say, "terlicious!". They really are. I would recommend them highly. And they make a TON. So that's nice, too, especially if you have kids (and a husband) who like cookies, or if you are giving them away or if you just have a cookie "mega-tub" that needs filling. It does the trick.
Next time I will share a recipe from the cookies I am baking to give out this holiday. But now it's your turn. Post a recipe! I'd love to see what everyone's baking this year.

Thanks, everyone!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007


Aren't they funny little people?? This week, my kids did things that I just thought were so funny, I had to share.

My daughter surprised me this week. Two weeks ago, we bought her a new radio. Her old radio was no longer reading CDs, and she was very upset because she couldn't listen to her children's songs during the day or her classical music at night. Having to get a new radio upset her even more than not having one, because she's not a fan of change. However, after many tears, she went with Daddy to the store to buy a now one. The one she picked is blue and is a good radio, and she really likes it, because it looks like it's smiling at her. Or, that's what she said. Apparently, she likes the radio a lot, because she wrote it a note and put it next to it (presumably so it can read it at its leisure). This is the note I found:

I will translate for you (since I am versed in Kindergarten-ese). It says "Happy Christmas radio. This is going to be your first Christmas".

Look at that writing!! Isn't that hilarious?? And not hilarious, in a "man, this kid can't spell" sort of way, but more to the fact that she's in Kindergarten and I didn't help her and look how many words she got right!!! WOW! I am blown away. I know she is learning some words in Kindergarten, she's learned the, am, I, we, pat, cat, that sort of thing. But Christmas is a hard word. And I know it's not exactly right, but she sounded it out and got most of it. I'm so impressed. She's only (just) 6! What a smartie!!

My son cracked me up the other night. My husband and I take turns washing the kids up at night, and brushing teeth, and pajama-ing. My son is right now going through a "Mommy" phase, and so he does not like when Daddy washes him up. Usually, he goes upstairs with Daddy to get washed and spends the time yelling at the top of his lungs that he wants Mommy. I don't know why. I'm thinking it's because he's 3.

Anyway, he's upstairs for a bath the other night, and he's yelling and yelling "I want Mommy!! I want MOMMY!!", as usual, and then all of a sudden, he changes tactics and yells out "OH, my life is SO BAD!!!!"

Then there is silence for a half second, I suppose because he wanted to see what sympathy those words would generate, and then I hear my husband start to crack up. I start cracking up. My daughter starts laughing, and then, because we're all doubled over, my son starts laughing, too. I laughed until I cried. Needless to say, when we had stopped, my husband finished the wash down, but my son no longer minded so much. We'll see what happens next time....

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Let It Snow!

Oh, the weather outside is frightful

But the fire is so delightful

And since we've no place to go (notice the cat NOT sleeping on the cat bed but rather on my sketches)

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!!

Ok, the weather outside is in no way frightful. It's completely gorgeous. The only frightful thing about it is the fact that someone hit a pole and snapped it in half, and we've had fritzy electricity all day long. On, off, on, off. I'm lucky if I get this entry done before the next "blackout". But I don't even mind that too much. The fire is roaring, there's food in the fridge for dinner, and no one has anywhere to go. It's a good day.

I figured I would just let you all know that I finally succumbed this week and decorated for Christmas/Yule. It took me 3 days. 3 DAYS!!! Crazy. It came out nicely, though. I thought I would show you some pictures, sans me talking. Here they are. Presenting......our house decorated for the holidays!!! (Cue the music!)

(I took some pictures when we had electric, and some when we didn't. Can you tell?? :) ) When it is not snowing (or I get some boots on), I will take some pictures of the outside. It came out really nicely, too. I'm pretty pleased with it.

I gave in kind of early this year. I started this Monday, which wasn't even December yet. It took me until Wednesday to finish, and then all of Thursday and Friday to clean up. Ugh. I think my theme for this year is "more is more". More ribbon, more greenery, more lights, more stuff. No surface was left un"stuffed". I'm a big fan of tins, can you tell?? I spread them out, and every year I find more, so every year I add more. I haven't had a chance to go "tin hunting" yet this year. Maybe this week. I also really like lights. These are my favorites. Aren't they purty??

I think the only sad thing about this time of year is that I have to trade my beautiful handmade linen curtains in for the store-made insulated ones. They make such a difference in terms of heat retention, but oh, they are just so bleh. White and shapeless and boring . I looked into making my own thermals, but it cost less to buy them already done, so there they are. Bleh I say again. Oh well. I will only look at the pretty lights and decorations and not the curtains. It's a sacrifice..... :)

PS--THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU to everyone who commented here or on the BB I posted on about the magazine article. I truly appreciate all your kind words. I also appreciate that some of you were upset on my behalf about my name not making it into the magazine. You are good friends to care so much. Actually, Mr. Lipinski did contact me right after I blogged that post and told me that though my name is not in the magazine, it was on the sample at quilt market in Houston, and it will be on the pictures of the samples on his website, and that is what buyers are referred to when they are shopping the fabric line. It was nice of him to let me know, I think. I'm still sorta famous. Yeehaw!!