Thursday, December 30, 2010

We Need A Little Christmas: Visiting Family

Despite all of the decorating, baking, shopping and gift wrapping, Christmas just wouldn't be Christmas without family. I traveled back to the Midwest to spend the holidays with my sister and her family. Being able to experience the magic of Christmas through children's eyes is a wonderful gift. All in all, it was a fairly quiet week, spending lots of time with my nephew and nieces (all three of them, not only adorable, but smart as whips!), baking cookies, cooking, fixing snacks, playing, playing, napping, then playing some more, making crafts, coloring and opening lots of gifts! And with that, I bid adieu to the 2010 Holiday season. As always, happy to see it come and happy to see it go.

We Need A Little Christmas: Handmade Gifts!

Let's be honest, not everyone appreciates a handmade gift. These are usually people who don't make things themselves. And that's ok. But there are some people who do appreicate a handmade gift. And luckily there is one of those in my family, my grandma. I always have grand plans for what to make, but as usual time ran out and I ended up with something very simple but useful. Potholders. Which are quite the stash buster. These were made from fabric I had on hand (home dec weight, so they are pretty durable) and have a layer of Insul Brite on the inside, so that they are fairly heat resistant. And who doesn't need some cheery colors in their kitchen?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

We Need A Little Christmas: Wrapping Presents!

On of my favorite things about the holidays is wrapping presents! I try to think outside the box (pun intended). Pictured here are tags made out of cereal boxes and stamps, more tags made out of fedex envelopes and silver doilies and gifts wrapped in traditional wrapping paper with garland, brown paper and a page torn from a catalog.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

We Need A Little Christmas: Baking!

In the spirit of the season, I decided to make some homemade peanut butter cups. I had some ambitious plans about making some for everyone I knew, but you know how best laid plans go... I had read some about chocolate and melting chocolate and how you shouldn't use chocolate chips, so I started out with a big bar of chocolate from Trader Joe's (the pound and a half one). Unfortunately, I needed way more than said chocolate bar and didn't have a chance to go back to Trader Joe's and decided that I would go ahead and follow the recipe and make the remaining peanut butter cups with hersey bars and chocolate chips. Bad idea. The batch made with this method ended up grainy and didn't taste right. So sadly, I only ended up with a small amount of peanut butter cups that are good enough to give out. What are you going to do? So, lesson learned, go with your first instinct. I started with this recipe, but would recommend using an equivalent of a good chocolate bar, instead of using chocolate chips. Word on the street is that the wax in the chocolate chips does not lend to good melting. (Upon reading more about melting chocolate, turns out that the grainy chocolate outcome may have been caused by water! Apparently the littlest bit of water in chocolate causes it to seize up. I was working by the sink in my mini kitchen, so I guess it's possible. Just a word of caution if you happend to attempt to make these.)

Sunday, December 5, 2010

We Need A Little Christmas: Shopping!

For practical reasons, I do alot of my Christmas shopping on line, but in the spirit of the season, I make sure that I do go out and do a little old fashioned, brick and mortor shopping. Today's destination was nearby, charming, historic, downtown Ellicott City. Dressed up in it's holiday finery. Complete with beautifully decorated shop windows, strolling Christmas Carolers and lightly falling snow.