Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Christmas 2008 Pictures

I promised I would put up some pictures for Uncle M. and Almost-Aunt M. who decided to go gallivanting off to Korea for a year or so. They managed to miss Christmas by about 10 days. Of course, we had a full-fledged Christmas dinner for them before they left. I hear that Christmas in Korea is a lover's holiday rather than a commercial gift-grab/religious celebration ala North American standards.

Without further ado, here's some of our Christmas pictures: full flash, no photoshop, taken on the fly.
This is a pic of the kids' first 'Christmas Pageant' (Dec.19/08). Together with a couple of HSing friends they learned a French carol and played out the Nativity. K got to be Mary as she was the only person able to provide a doll to be used as baby Jesus. We have a very male dominated HSing community!

Here's a pic of K in snow past her knees on the 21st. We got quite the blanket of snow just in time for Christmas. Of course, in the last week it has rained and warmed so much that most of it is gone.
A lovely pic of the kids in front of the freshly decorated tree. They're so co-operative.

Here they are receiving a lesson from B. in how to properly hang candy canes on the tree. Apparently there is a particularly successful technique that should be utilized.
More to follow...maybe tomorrow...

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Project Korknisse!! 2009

I thought I would put the word out now, while we're all full of great ideas and intentions for next Christmas. If you have any extra corks kicking around, or if you feel like saving some and putting them to good use, I'd be happy to arrange to take them off your hands.
I'm hoping to knit up a load of these cutie little Korknisse guys as ornaments and gift toppers for Christmass 2009.
I didn't make ornaments this year. Now that Christmas 2008 is all wrapped up (ouch...punny, no?) I have discovered that I missed making ornaments for everyone. So I'm planning ahead.
Let me know if you can help me out. There might even be a 'Thank-You Korknisse' in it for you!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Our First Real Tree

Oh, Fer Cryin' Out Loud.

Had a lovely visit last week with Jennifer. Had prepared a little crafty thing for her - just becasue she's always preparing little crafty treasures for someone else - yet the photos somehow disappeared between the camera dock and the PC.

Then we had a lovely whirlwind of a trip to see my extended family in Barrie, Ont. Took lots of pictures. Had a dress-up Christmas party. Spent 10ish hours in the car with my own little family. Took some more pictures. And the camera won't turn on. At least it waited until I had taken the party pics before becoming tempermental. I'm sure my tech support guru will work his magic, but geez.

Tonight we went out and bought our first real Christmas tree. Sorry, no photos. It's really beautiful. Really. Although the trunk seems to list to starboard. We're leaving it to settle tonight and tomorrow evening we'll decorate. Perhaps my camera will come out of it's tempermental little snit by then. We can only hope.

Holiday preparations are happening in enjoyable little chunks. You'd think I would be entrenched in some holiday gift knitting, but not so much. I'm knitting myself something and I'm considering knitting a penguin. R likes penguins.

K would like to remind us (mostly me) that her birthday is coming up. One week today. She'll be 11. When I was pregnant I remember thinking about how old I would be when she was ten. I thought that sounded old. I couldn't imagine being that old. Now, I can't believe how silly and young and immature and I was when I was preparing to parent. Thank goodness kids are resilient and forgiving.

I'm off to knit. Or maybe make some paper stars. Of which I would love to show you a photo. But I won't. Not yet.


Friday, December 12, 2008

Christmas Cards

I like to send Christmas cards. This year, I'm very impressed that I got them in the mail 'on time'. I didn't make them - I like to make Christmas cards - but in the interest of getting them out on time, I made do with what I had in the Christmas supplies.

Although we are travelling to see family before Christmas, I mailed off the few cards to those we would be seeing on our travels. After all, if the weather is bad, the trip could be cancelled.

We also mailed off a special package to a new-found cousin in Germany. The kids especially love getting things in the mail, so they are so excited to send a little gift off to the other side of the globe to hopefully make someone else as happy as they are when they get mail.

I also have a stack of cards that we will hand deliver. I think we will pile into the car one night with a hot drink for everyone. We usually do a Christmas Light Drive, so in the interests of tradition and conservation, we will combine two trips into one. We will deliver cards while sipping drinks and searching out displays of holiday lights.

I am considering getting organized for Christmas in November next year. Usually I wait until December first to break out the Christmas bin of supplies and decorations. But i find I am saying 'maybe next year' to too many fun things. If I tended to the work and preparation in November, I could enjoy our December celebrations even more. Someone remember that and remind me, will you?


No-Roll Sugar Cookies

My cookie exchange recipe, No-Roll Sugar Cookies, comes from my battered old cookbook, "The Pillsbury Cookbook: The All Purpose Companion For Today's Cook". Not being a sugar cookie connoisseur of any sort, I have no idea of they are any good or not. My kids like 'em, and that's what counts here. The other reason I like them is that I don't have to roll, cut, lift and bake. Somewhere between the cutting of the shape with the cookie cutter and the lifting onto the pan with the spatula, I manage to mangle any sort of dough. I think I need lessons.

No-Roll Sugar Cookies

1 cup sugar
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 cup oil
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
4½ cups all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp. salt

In large bowl, cream both sugars and butter until light and fluffy.
Add oil, vanilla and eggs; mix well.
Stir in flour, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt until well blended.
Refrigerate at least 2 hours or overnight.
Heat oven to 375ºF.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls.
Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
Flatten with bottom of glass dipped in sugar.
Bake for 5 to 8 minutes or until set, but not brown.
Makes 9 to 10 dozen cookies.

To note a few things: You can substitute some lemon juice for the cream of tartar 1:3. I wouldn't use this substitution in every recipe, but due to the size of this one, the lemon juice won't be noticeable. Use 3 teaspoons for every teaspoon of cream of tartar called for. I divided the dough into four patties and wrapped each before I put it in the fridge. That way, I only took out one at a time and the others stayed cold while I worked away. I decorated with holly shaped non-perils before baking. It was tedious. I got the frustrating things at my local Bulk Barn. When you're buying yours, get half of what you think you need. Otherwise, you'll have non-perils in your freezer for years. Flip the baking sheet upside-down and bake your cookies on the bottom of your cookie sheet. Unless, of course, you already have nice, flat cookie sheets without rims. They tend to cook more evenly without the rim in the way.

I really liked these little guys while they were warm. Once they cooled, they were packed away and frozen. I'll have to let you know how I like them after our Christmas company eats them.


Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Cookie Exchange 2008

Now that my brothers finally decided to join my ranks - those would be the Settled Down With A Significant Other ranks - there's quite a few people around during the holidays. This year, my Mom invited the ladies of the family to participate in a cookie exchange. We'd never done one as a family before. I'm still trying to remember if I've ever really done a real cookie exchange. I know K did a recipe exchange at Girl Guides one year. Those are fun too, but I digress...

K and I jumped on the Cookie Exchange bandwagon. K made gingersnaps. They are a favourite of hers. You have to under cook them a little so they stay soft and chewy. Apparently, crunchy gingersnaps are just not cool.

(R is composing the traditional Santa letter. More on that later...)

I made no-roll sugar cookies. I'm happy with how they turned out. One recipe made about 100 cookies. Perfect for when you're in a hurry and only have time to make one batch of something. Mixing the batter went quickly enough. I divided it in four and popped it in the fridge for two hours. Just long enough to clean up the kitchen and get a busy Sunday underway. Then I spent two hours getting the dough all baked up. Most of that was fiddling with the fussy wee decorations. Baking time for these little guys was only about 5 minutes.
We joined Mom, my sister, my sister-in-law and my sister-in-law-to-be for an afternoon tea party last Sunday. We lined trays of treats on the counter and filled our bags with a great selection of treats: creme de menthe squares, mini cinnamon buns, mini butter tarts, shortbread, chocolate covered peanut butter balls, chocolate chip cookies. Hopefully I'll remember to get a picture when I take them out of the freezer a little closer to Christmas.

So there you have it. Proof that we are enjoying the holiday preparations. I'm very aware this year that for me, the preparations are the celebration. If I can't enjoy the effort I put into our December celebrations, I find myself really disappointed and exhausted by the time the three days of Christmas roll around. I like that the kids remember the yearly traditions that have crept in over the years. It's nice to see that they are starting to feel the rhythm of our year.

I promise that there's lots going on around here. So much I could share but I'm - happily - a little out of time. Today for example, I could have blogged all afternoon, but I was busy building a snow fort with R. The last time I built a snow fort, I was maybe 6 years old; the snow banks were bigger than I was...and it was more of a slide than a fort. Thanks for checking in.


Monday, December 8, 2008

You Know It's Cold When...

You know it's cold when the snow - even the little amount you have - is squeaky as you walk to the curb at 7a.m. on Monday morning to put the garbage out.

But I suppose that's to be expected, this being Canada and all.

It sure is nice, though, walking back in to a warm house to enjoy a hot French Vanilla coffee (if you're into that kind of thing) and a logic puzzle or two before the rest of the sleeping bodies emerge.

Happy Monday, everyone. Have a good week.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Happy December

Nothing is new. Move along if you are expecting revelations and exclamations.

Had a lovely visit last week with my wee nephew who ended up staying for the day.

We tried to keep him busy and entertained.

We were very successful. We even managed to get our school work completed. Wee Nephew decided he needed some book work as well.

We also sent him home with some new skills. I'm a firm believer in payback. This newly taught skill in response to a particular toy electric guitar given to K when she was 4 or 5. (Just kidding....kind of...)

This week we are staying on track with the school work while getting ready for the holidays. I'll blog about things as they come up because I like to remember them.
So far, I've got as far as having most of the household decorations up. I'm thinking they look a little sparse. I'm dwelling on some thoughts about this. I want it to look festive, yet not tacky. Since I don't have a very defined style, I'm having trouble deciding on further decorating action. I do like the natural side of the holidays: Apples and cloves and garlands and greens and fruit and light and snow and fire. Perhaps I can hone and curtail myself into a nature based holiday display. It's a work in progress, folks.
As well, I have a half-completed To Do For The Holidays's in my head. I keep meaning to write it down, but....So there's baking and ornaments and celebrations and meals and gifts and visiting all mulling about in my head. Oh, and K's birthday. I'm planning that mentally as well.
B's work schedule this week is making for early mornings and therefore making for early bedtimes. Thanks for checking in.