Tag Archives: Christmas

Make Your Celebrations Easy With Festive Holiday Tableware #review

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Stocking Stuffers… a tradition!

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Gifts That Don’t Last

…in a good way!

As a new mom, I wanted to keep up with some traditions I  hold dear, even with limited time and budget. We decided not to do our annual Christmas Party, and I despise hosting potlucks, and I don’t have it in me to clean 16 settings of fine china, BUT I wanted to make sure that I was still  spreading some holiday cheer! And so, I knew I had to bake!

I decided on cookies and truffles for Dave’s office. He works 7 days a week, five of which he spends in Weymouth working on computers… what better way to stay focused than a million grams of sugar? There are a few people in the office with well known sweets addictions, so I took it to the limit, making sugar cookies and chocolate, peanut butter truffles.

It was amazing… and Addie LOVED helping:

Addie mixing

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So… I made sugar cookies, adapted from a recipe at Allrecipies.com

Ingredients (60 cookies):

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Icing: food coloring or sugar sprinkles, milk and confectioners sugar- mix milk and sugar until  you get a thin, but not watery consistency- add sparkles or food coloring
Icing ingredients

Directions:

In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
  2. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

mixer

Cookie cutters

trees

Stars

Always make sure your product is yummy!

Always make sure your product is yummy!

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IMAG1760 Of course our delivery was in terrible weather… it was, after all, the day after the apocalypse, but it cleared up on the way home… each package was delivered, except for the just-in-case-I-forgot-someone one… SO we  ate that one for dessert!

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delivery

Also in the package:

Peanut Butter “Truffles”

This recipe is adapted from Better Homes and Gardens

Ingredients (4-5 dozen)

  • 2 cups peanut butter
  • ½ cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups crispy rice cereal
  • 4 cups powdered sugar
  • 12oz semi-sweet chocolate chips, more if you want the coating to be a bit thicker
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Directions:

Melt peanut butter and butter in a microwave-safe bowl. Stir in vanilla. Add rice cereal and powdered sugar and mix well.

butter

Form into 1-inch balls, firmly packed. Place on a cookie sheet and freeze until firm (at least 30 minutes).

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Our freezer consists of milk, a turkey, vodka and peanut butter balls...

Our freezer consists of milk, a turkey, vodka and peanut butter balls…

In a saucepan (or the top of a double broiler), melt the chocolate chips and oil together over very low heat, stirring often.** Using a toothpick, dip each peanut butter ball in the chocolate and place on wax-paper lined cookie sheets.

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You want the chocolate to stay in a liquid-state during all the dipping. Keep the heat low and add oil, if needed, during dipping.

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Chill until firm. These can be eaten cold or at room temperature.

I was happy that I got to give gifts, and though not something that people will remember years later as it sits on the mantel (Lord, I hope they don’t keep cookies and chocolate on the mantel), I know that the thought and good cheer will spread through out the year. I was pleased about how the treats turned out, and was glad to convey our appreciation for Dave’s wonderful career and all the time they’ve given us with Addie’s birth this year!

I am learning that it’s not about the money you spend or the things you buy, in general, but about the thought and love you put into everything you do (everyday). We are so blessed to have steady employment for Dave, who supports us alone. I wish there was more to give, but what’s better than appreciation and happiness? Coming into the New Year, I know that it’s going to be another success!

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Time Marches On

… or crawls or walks. At 8 1/2 months, we don’t really sit up yet. While Christmas is in the air, I’m becoming more aware of the gross motor skill differences between Addie and other children her age. In some ways, I consider myself lucky to have a baby who doesn’t move much, yet. I don’t have to chase her around- she stays on her play mat and happily rolls from one toy to the next, but other times I feel sad. I want to wear her on my body. I want to have her sit up and look at me. I don’t want to worry every time she bumps her head that there will be some severe injury. I don’t want to feel the kyphosis in her spine. All good things in time… Sometimes, time takes a long while to come.

It’s Christmas Eve, and as people are tucked away in their beds, I am feeling Addie’s soft spot to check for a buldge. Like I do every night. I wait until she is asleep, then gently feel her head to make sure that there are no signs of hydrocephalus. Then I let her sleep. Just as Santa is making his way down our chimney, I will wake up to make sure Addie’s snoring isn’t getting worse. When the milk has been finished and the cookies all gone, and the big man is on his way to the next house, I will lay back down to pretend to sleep ’til dawn.

I love Christmas, but maybe my love for the season is rivaled with hate for it, in equal parts. I miss my Dad. I hate that we barely put up lights to save on an electric bill we already can’t afford. I wish my whole family could be together and not spread out down the east coast. And I wish I knew what the future held for Addie. There are a million things that can go wrong in life, I just want one wish for Addie’s first Christmas: A lifetime of happiness for my baby girl.

I remember last year at this time:

Christmas 2011

We were in Florida and I could not wait for Addie to arrive. My handsome nephew, Mark, had been born almost a month prior, and I could not stop snuggling on his little self. I couldn’t even dream of a human so small and fragile. But then, my Addie came.

Florida 2011

Brand new Addie

This face is wise and curious:

Addie

She is, as far as I can tell, the reason I am here in this world. But sometimes, I wonder if I am good enough for her. Am I willing to wait for all the good things? Will I show her the right path to take, but let her choose her way? I want so badly to live in the now, but it’s so hard when the past is always nipping at your heels.

My dear baby girl. You are the comfort and joy, the wondrous night, what makes me laugh all the way home where you snuggle into me and keep me warm, you’re my good cheer and you help me live in Heavenly peace. You are my miracle. Christmas, or not.

Happy holidays to all who celebrate. May we never know what God intended for our lives, just that He intended them for us.

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Hand (and feet) Crafted

We took the holiday season and carved crafted some memories into it. For Thanksgiving we made turkeys and for Christmas we made reindeer with our feet and ornaments with our hands and feet! Sometimes art is fun… and sometimes it’s not.

I take a lot of pictures, and sometimes I think to myself: just experience it! Losing my Dad at such a young age, however, I look at all of my pictures and wish there were a thousand more. More of my parents. More of me with my Dad. Just more pictures. And so, I want to create the memories. My favorite ones have always been pictures and video, but I love looking back at my hand prints done in ceramic. My Mom still keeps them and it makes me feel special to still be that little girl to her. I plan on getting a portfolio and keeping Addie’s crafts in there year-after-year. I hope to do these things until she tells me Mom, I’m too old for this. At which point, I will send her to the movies with friends and quietly cry (and drink a bottle of wine) in my room. And so:

Turkeys

Salt Dough Ornaments

Feet Reindeer

The turkeys were hysterical… as Addie loved, then hated the paint!

It may have been trying to get there, but we made it… and the grandparents loved their new Turkey Day decor! …plus, Addie wasn’t the only one not thrilled about the paint! Hadley, my best friend’s baby girl, was none-to-exited about it:

Hadley and Ashely

It was super simple, and we used just 4 paints, mixing them together to get the colors we didn’t have, like orange and brown:

paints

Using heavyweight paper, I cut out the wattle, feet and two circles, one larger than the other) to make the head. We used googly eyes, and the feathers were hand prints!

The cutting

Hand prints

Turkeys

This one went on our fridge

This one went on our fridge

In the weeks following, Christmas seemed to be racing its way to us… and so, we took the turkey down and made some reindeer with our feet to replace it! This was MUCH more fun, as Addie had eaten before we started AND she loved kicking her feet. Thankfully, we were doing this project at home and I wasn’t afraid of the mess. (There really wasn’t one, but I was nervous there would be!) Again, using just 4 paints, I made brown, and then used black puffy paint for the antlers, red paint for the nose and small googly eyes!

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Addie's Foot!

Our fridge

Our fridge

There was a lot of paint left over, so I made one, too! I plan on giving each set of grandparents their own for their homes as gifts.

And finally… what is Christmas without a beautiful tree? Addie LOVES the tree and watching me put ornaments and lights on, and so I figured we would make a tradition in our house and make some salt dough ornaments of her hands and feet. I’ve gotten them as gifts in the past, but they always went mouldy on me in storage. I happen to have four large bottles of mod podge and they finally got some use sealing these bad boys.

They were super simple… You only need three ingredients for the actual ornaments: salt, flour and water. As well as a rolling pin and cookie cutters, if you plan on making more than just hands and feet! Get some paint or glitter to decorate, too, mod podge or lacquer to seal them, and some string or ribbon to hang.*TIP* I used a large bowl as a cookie cutter, to go around the foot and hand prints, and a chopstick to make the hole

chopsitck

and the tip of a knife write her initials, name and year.

Name

So, using 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt and 1 cup of water, combine in a large bowl and knead the dough until it’s smooth.
Roll the dough out until it’s about 1/4″ thick (I HAD to use flour on the counter and pin)… then you’re done! Cut out shapes, make prints, go crazy!

Ingredients

Place your ornaments on an un-greased baking sheet and bake at 250* for 2 hours, then flip them over and bake for another 2 . When they’re done, paint, decorate or, at least, seal them! These are amazing keepsakes for you and your family, as well as for grandparents. I hope you get a chance to make some before Tuesday!

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Hand on the tree in red

Foot on the tree in green

… for those who are wondering, ornaments also went better than hand turkeys. This little beauty loved squishing the dough in her hands. Luckily, unlike with paint, you can re-do these if need be!

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Get your craft on!

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Some Satire with your Shower

So, I’ve been thinking a lot about this proverbial mom time I’ve been hearing so much about. I never really want to get away, in fact I have panic attacks when I take the trash out and Addie is inside, but I was intrigued by the concept when I took mommy time for myself today. I peed. Alone. In fact, I just sat there reading for a whole minute. I was intrigued by the paragraph in a back issue (of which I have many) of Parenting Magazine that explained that a baby not holding its head up when you pull its arms after 6 months is an early sign of autism. I felt bad for all the moms out there yanking their kids up and calling their pediatricians.

Maybe, I thought, their kid just has a big, heavy head.

But, I read. Alone.

Granted, Addie was napping, and I laid the vacuum down, took off my rubber gloves and took the opportunity to pee and read at the same time, but- to me- this was my time.

So, later that night, my husband said to me, “take a shower if you want.” And, boy, did I need.

I hopped in and did my usual hair, pits, legs, lather up… when I heard no crying I looked down in the corner of the tub and saw it.
A brown sugar body scrub from Sensational Showers. I got it as a gift last Christmas from a friend, and I thought it was awesome, except I like to use it on my feet and although I could touch my toes until the day I gave birth, doing so wasn’t a highlight. But, tonight was my night.

I opened up the jar and was hit with a beautiful burst of warmth. It smelled like Christmas! I scrubbed my feet on the floor of the shower, letting the water hit me til it was almost cold. Carefully (lots of oils), I stepped out of the shower. I poured myself a glass of champagne (celebrating how awesome my husband is- literally, that is why we have champagne) and came to write a blog.

This mommy time may not be a pedicure, which I desperately need, but it is time for me to have soft feet, remember amazing friends and the gifts that keep on giving, and my hubby… for “letting” me take a shower.

I have an appointment to use an expiring LivingSocial massage in two weeks. I hope that doesn’t lead me to heartbreak. Leaving Addie with anyone besides Dave will be hard, but I have chosen someone who is going to be a lifelong friend to Addie, Dave and me.

Have a beautiful evening moms and dads- may you get a chance to pee, or read, or both!

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Hallmark

Aside from all of the  heavy things there are out there to vent, pursue, educate and cry about, I thought I would treat you to some ridiculous, if not heartwarming, writing. A lighthearted piece, if you will.

For starters, happy 15 weeks to the beautiful Miss Adelaide Eileen! (And hello Aunt Jessie- we love you, clearly!)

Onto the meat of this puff piece:
I love Christmas. And when I say love, I mean I’m obsessed. I got on a ladder, perching  off the side of the columns in the front of my house at 18 weeks pregnant to put up Christmas lights last year and I cannot wait to pass the sickness along to Addie.

Every year we get a new Hallmark ornament. From childhood my mom made sure we had an ornament that was chosen specifically for us. My brothers have the Star Wars series, my sister the Barbie series, my Dad (when he was alive) got the penguin/snowman on ice every year, and we always got her something to do with gardening. (We also got her matching lipstick and nail polish and a cloth calendar for the year, which we can no longer find.) I have the Puppy Love series, beginning from it’s inception in 1991. I have many others, and I’ve attempted to wrangle every boyfriend and best friend ever into the love of the holidays by purchasing them their very own ornament for the tree, but the most important ones are the ones that my mom chose for me. I know that she loves the ornaments and decorations I made with thumb prints drawn into reindeer or a Santa and elves. But my favorites are each and every one that I placed on the tree with my mom at Christmas and opened on Christmas Eve. The small puppies smiling at me from a basket or wrapped in a scarf, perfectly wrapped in their original boxes, waiting to be taken out and hung.

And now, it’s my turn.  As I walked into the Hallmark store in Garden City, Cranston for the Christmas in July weekend, I was nervous. I wanted to get the right 1st Christmas ornament for her.

I looked at them all. Then I walked away and picked out Dave’s ornament (he gets the guitar one ever year) and checked out the baby ones again. Then I walked away to think.  Then I walked back and I saw it. Somehow I had missed it. lil’ peanut was staring at Addie, whom I fondly refer to as my baby beanut. Yes: Beanut. I don’t know why or how it began, but it did and it’s become one of her million names. And here was this ornament staring me in the face and making me tear up. The poor sales girl who watched me pace and compare for 45 minutes while holding Addie who was drooling all over me, must have thought I was crazy.

I know it’s just and ornament to most people, but to me, it’s the beginning. The first of many memories that I cannot wait to have with my beautiful baby girl. I can’t wait to light our Chanukkah candles and pass on the tradition of silly gifts: socks, headbands, gloves, scarves, a hat- eight silly gifts to pale in the shadow of such a beautiful story about the holiday. And to celebrate Christmas with midnight mass, opening her ornament on the eve of, and waking up way too early to eat a chocolate orange strategically shoved in the toe of a custom L.L.Bean stocking.

So here is her ornament:

If you’re in the area for the holidays, please stop in- we would love to celebrate with you- no matter what holiday you celebrate.

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