I did it all for the cookie(s)!

Santa and Cookies

I need an elf. Like a real, live, breathing, HELPING elf (Sorry Duncan! I still love you, but you are stuck in a Mason jar right now and obvi cannot help.). I need one that can follow simple instructions, like cleaning cookie sheets or rolling dough into balls and coating the with granulated sugar. Yesterday was Christmas Cookie Baking Saturday.

Christmas Cookies

And I was exhausted. I still sort of am. Yesterday yielded 225 cookies. The ones I chose to bake this year were White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal, Ultimate Ginger, and Eggnog Cookies. I really wanted to go with a theme – a classic Christmas flavor theme. I love a theme!

Christmas

My day started with getting the boys up (Just kidding. They woke me up with their “I’m-ready-to-get-up signaling noises”.) After breakfast, it was all about the cookies! I went through several pounds of butter. Isn’t it therapeutic to watch butter sticks melt? Oh. Just me?

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I love the smell of melting butter, too. It’s heavenly.

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My right-hand-helpers (no thanks to Duncan), my Kitchen Aid stand and hand-held mixers, were very busy, whirring and stirring for hours.

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I made the batter for the White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies first, as it had to sit in the fridge for two hours.

http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2012/10/white-chocolate-cranberry-oatmeal-cookies-recipe.html

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When I finally did bake them, they came out perfectly – browned on the edges and bottoms (due to the one pound of butter in the doubled recipe), cranberries glistening, oatmeal giving off the perfect amount of chewiness, and the white chocolate offering up little pockets of creamy sweetness.

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The Eggnog Cookies were next. These were an easy-peasy recipe to use. I love how they turned out. They are very simple, letting the true flavor of eggnog shine through.

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Sprinkled with extra nutmeg, these little sweeties are sure to conjure up lovely holiday memories! My kids and I have gone through at least 2 gallons of eggnog this season so far. It’s so delicious. Bigs calls it “Santa Milk” since some of the jugs of it have Santa on them. I love how kids see things so differently from us old, haggard, jaded adults.

http://iwasborntocook.com/eggnog-cookies/

Next and lastly were my Ultimate Ginger Cookies. I love love ginger cookies. I think you know that, by now.

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This is the second year in a row I’ve done a variation on a ginger cookie. These came out delicious! I love Ina Garten’s addition of crystallized ginger.

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I love how rolling the dough balls in granulated sugar before baking returns a crunchy, but chewy and soft, cookie that looks like it’s been sprinkled with icy snow.

http://www.barefootcontessa.com/recipes.aspx?RecipeID=341&S=0

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All of them, together, in harmony, on a plate. The beautiful flavors that epitomize the season – eggnog, ginger, cranberry.

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These sure would have been a lot easier to make if that elf would have helped! And, sadly (but not really sadly, for this is the purpose!), for as much time as I put into them, these cookies got packaged up (neighbors, teacher, friends, church family, mom group) and doled out quicker than I could say “YULE LOG!!!”. All I’ve got left is crumbs. That’s okay. That’s what it’s all about. I’m sure we’ll receive lots and lots of cookies from other people…right?! Are you cookie-making friends listening?! 😉 I jest (sort of).

Speaking of that elf, he’s been in several different spots since we last spoke.

Elf on a Shelf Day 6

He’s made a mess of toothpaste. Thanks for THAT, Dunc.

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He’s crammed himself into a mason-esque jar. It wouldn’t so creepy except that I had an almost-too-small jar and I had to sort of almost damage Duncan’s neck to get him in there. Oops.

Elf on a Shelf Day 8

And he made coffee filter snowflakes! What a clever elf he is!

Well, we’ve been very busy in our house, not only baking cookies (me) and wrapping gifts (me), but indulging in the traditions of the holiday (all). Bigs watched “The Polar Express” last year, but didn’t care so much (or understand). At three and a half, he now gets it and LOVES it! I pulled out some old Christmas books I had as a kid (and saved…they are in muy delicado condition, I’d say!) and we’ve been reading those, too.

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If you haven’t seen or read The Jolly Christmas Postman by Janet & Allan Ahlberg, you MUST. It was one of my favorite books as a child. It is adorable.

And Bigs now tells me that all he wants for Christmas is a new water bottle. Not a bouncy carrot. Great. Well, I’m sure he’ll forget he reneged on that and enjoy the dog toy shaped like a carrot that Santa is bringing him.

So, off to church – the second Sunday of Beautiful Advent. Have a very sweet, blessed Sunday.

In Christ,

Kristin

What a Hassle!

Since I’ve been on my gingerbread kick (which really isn’t so much of a “kick” as it is a “lifestyle” for me right now), I made Bigs’ lunch with a gingerbread theme.

Gingerbread Themed Preschool Lunch

His class also enjoyed the giant gingerbread cookie I made for them the day before. I think most everyone liked it! I was able to bring Smalls in with me and we enjoyed it with the class. Then Bigs’ sweet teacher told them the story of the Gingerbread Man. It was adorable. For this lunch, I cut out gingerbread boy shaped PB&J and used my Food Writers to draw on some faces and buttons. I gave him an applesauce squeezy fruit, some dried cranberries, some holiday shaped Goldfish crackers and a gingerbread boy Peep. And can I tell you how gingerbread-y that Peep tasted? I had to try one, natch. So good!

And our trusty scout elf, Duncan, came again. This time, he got himself into quite the pickle when playing with Bigs’ army men.

Elf on a Shelf Day 5

Who even knows (Pinterest??!) what he’ll be up to next!!

I made Hasselback Potatoes for dinner last night. They looked nothing like the picture on the recipe website. Typical of my cooking.

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Whyyyy are they so blackey burned in some spots and not browned enough where it should be?

Hassel Potatoes

Once I brushed off most of the blackened bread crumb mixture, they looked better….so…they looked just okay.

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What a hassel

All in all, I’m okay with serving semi-burned food to my family. It isn’t so bad. I served those potatoes (which were more of a HASSLE than a Hassel) with some roasted red pepper & asiago chicken sausage and some fresh fruit.

Whatever. I can bake much better than cook. And if you’re interested in this Hasselback potato recipe, which if you are solely going based on these photos, you should have no interest AT ALL, here is that recipe.

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/hasselback-potatoes/

Better luck to you.

So what if I used olive oil instead of butter and used the kind of grated Romano cheese that belongs on pizza instead of freshly grated. So what.

Have a wonderful Friday,

Kristin

Alexander the Not-So-Great

Have you ever read the book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day? I loved that book growing up and still have the same book I owned and read when I was little.

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Today has been a day like Alexander’s. I mean, literally everything I’ve touched has gone terribly awry.

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I woke up before the alarm (and this happens most of the time). Automatic fail. I decided to start laundry early, since I was up. I do that often, but today I left some of the freshly dried piles in the basket. All wrinkled. Husband’s work clothes – totes wrinkled. And I’m not an ironer.  Gah! My little one, Smalls, likes to fight me during diaper changes. He writhes and wiggles and arches his back and tries to leap off of his diaper changing table (which he’s done). Anyways, I was so fed up with not being able to get his new diaper on, I just let him walk around without it, in protest. Big fat joke on me. What was I thinking?! He walked into the bathroom and peed all over it and the hallway. Puddles everywhere. It’s like he was saving it all for that one moment of diaper-freedom.  He also spit his already-been-chewed Raisin Bran breaky all over his highchair and put it on the floor. I also broke my green ceramic plate by dropping it in the sink. Shattered into a bajillion tiny pieces. At least it wasn’t on the floor. The boys played with their slime (a party favor from a birthday recently – made from glue and borax, etc.)…

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Smalls

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Bigs

…and it got all over my Christmas tablecloth and into Smalls’ hair. See that slime?

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I mean…it won’t come out. He’s going to live with slime in his hair forever. He probably doesn’t even care. I love that slime and the boys do too. It is really fun to play with and usually it is contained. But not today. Because nothing is easy today. I decided to make a giant gingerbread cookie for Bigs’ class tomorrow and the dough (used boxed mix) became so sticky that there almost wasn’t enough for the gingerbread pan. Most of it was on my hand because I had to wet them and pat down the dough to coax it to Gingy’s appendages. Appetizing.

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We lost a piece from the hat of Bigs and Smalls’ new nutcracker decoration and for sure my dog will eat it. Or Smalls will. And get sick. She (the dog) and he (the baby) alway finds the lost pieces of things…with her and his mouth. I also had the baby gate up to my room and rushed into there, thinking it wasn’t there and totally took a spill. Like, the hardest spill of my life. I just had to lay there in this awkward position I landed in for a few minutes after falling. I wasn’t even sure what to do with my broken self. It really stunned me. And it was so offensive. That dang gate. My outfit choice today (totally my fault) makes me look like an actual sumo wrestler. I walked out of the room for one teeny second and I came back in to see Smalls standing on the dining room table holding (and about to chuck!) one of my Christmas village houses that I have as a centerpiece.  I folded up my stroller and put it away in my trunk with a piece of pizza in the bottom of it (don’t even ask) and a lady yelled at me and tried to run me over with her motorized cart, while we were out and about. And I made chili and put it in the crock pot this morning and accidentally used the can of tomatoes and spicy green chilis so the entire thing was going to be spicy. The small hope I had that Bigs and Smalls would even eat this meal went right out the window! And not to mention, well, to mention, my husband’s new GI health issues cannot handle spice, as he used to be able to. So. It’s jus’ me and my HUGE pot of chili. Just the two of us. And Bigs has been telling me that ALL he wants for Christmas is a bouncy carrot toy. I have no idea what this is. Quite frankly, HE has no idea what that is. When I ask questions (do they have one of these and school or church or does a friend have one), I get no response. Santa??? Are you there? It’s me, Kristin. Help me help YOU help me!! What is this bouncy carrot? I need it. Today. Or at least before Christmas. But sooner would ease my anxiety.

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Bigs’ letter to Santa, asking for a bouncy carrot.

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Smalls’ letter to Santa, asking for… ?? 🙂

Today is of the hot mess sort. I’m what’s called “done” for today.

I’ll say it – it’s been a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. Things can only get better.  Right?? Right!!

My day did get better. Naps helped. I watched The Holiday while the boys slept and that ALWAYS puts me in a good mood. And I finished Bigs’ big gingerbread cookie. Here’s how he turned out. I think he’s pretty cute.

Gingerbread Boy Cookie

That is one big cookie! It’s a HUGE pan (larger than the standard cookie sheet). I’d say the gingy is about 12 inches or so. I hope they enjoy their surprise!

And Duncan was here again!

Elf on a Shelf Day 4

The little rascal is sitting in a bowl of mini marshmallows and is decorating my gumdrop tree and stringing up the marshmallows. Sweet-toofed elf.

Annnnnd, here’s the dumb chili that I’ll be the only one eating for eighty weeks. I browned ground beef with some celery, light salt, pepper, chili powder and onion powder (Out of actual onions…because even though I went to two different stores to get the supplies for this mess since I forgot all the supplies on my first trip, I didn’t get onions. Just because having them would make life too perfect.). I drained the beef and added a packet of no-salt (Hubs watches sodium intake) chili seasoning. I added a can of stewed tomatoes with green chili (unfortunately for my kids), a can of kidney beans and a can of northern beans (all drained). I dumped this all back into the crock pot and kept it on low all day. I served over brown rice. And for 75% of my family, I just served rice, no chili. :/

Chili

I realize my “problems” could be worse. And some days they are. I just needed to get my terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day off my chest. Hoping for a much better day tomorrow.

Blessings,

Kristin

Ohhh Christmas Tree…

Vintage Pink Christmas

Ohhh Christmas tree, ohhh Christmas treeeee, how lovely are your branches?

Good morning and Happy Tuesday! Do you have your Christmas tree up yet?

Tree

I love seeing peoples’ Christmas trees. When we go on a walk, I love seeing the twinkling lights through the windows of the homes. Is that creepy?

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And I love that everyone’s Christmas tree is different. Some have only white lights, some have only colored lights. Some go with the red and gold theme. Some go with the gold and silver theme.

Beautiful Lit Tree

Mine’s a bit of a mish-mash. We have “vintage colored” lights and ornaments from all over – my childhood, places we’ve traveled, gifts. We also have silver tinsel all over it. The boys pick it off all the time, but it adds such an old-timey look to it.  I love it. I love the vintage tree look. I love tinsel trees. I love Christmas trees.

Today is a Christmas Tree themed preschool lunch for my sweet boy!

Christmas Tree Themed Preschool Lunch

I made three different Christmas tree shaped PB&J sandwiches and decorated them with my Food Writers and a few sprinkles. Bigs also has a clementine, which I arranged like a tree and put tree sprinkles on. He has unsweetened applesauce with different tree sprinkles, and lastly, for dessert, he has some red and green sprinkled Goldfish brand cookies and some dried cranberries. I hope he loves it as much as I loved making it!

And Duncan, our elf, came once again (you’ll be seeing this 21 more times HA!)! Silly guy was found in my china cabinet riding a reindeer.

Elf on a Shelf Day 3

Partridge in a Pear Tree

Think you’ll have “Partridge in a Pear Tree” in your head now? I do. I can’t ever seem to remember the whole song.

Have a sparkly, lovely day,

Kristin

Not my Gumdrop Buttons!

Gingerbread House

I have this leeeeettle, teeny obsession fascination with all things gingerbread. I love gingerbread cake, gingerbread cookies, gingerbread cheesecake, gingerbread tea, gingerbread ANYTHING! Once Thanksgiving comes to a close, I tend to leave the pumpkin behind (the horror!!) and move on to be all-consumed with gingerbread.

Candy Land Gingy House

Isn’t that just magical?

I find that my favorite Christmas ornaments and decorations (aside from the sentimental ones) are little gingerbread ones – hanging on the tree, printed on my dishtowels. I just love it. I think it’s iconic to the season. And the actual gingerbread tastes so good to me – spicy, sweet, gingery.

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Supposedly, right now, Twix, Oreo and M&M’s have come out with gingerbread flavored treats. I need to get my hands on those. Yesterday.

(Well – maybe I only need ONE of the above?? See review in link below!)

http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2013/12/supermarket-sweets-gingerbread-twix-m-and-m-review.html?ref=title

Gingy

Last year, I made a little gingerbread house that came out adorably. Not perfect, but just perfect. But the real winner of the season was my Husband and Bigs’ gingerbread house from Home Depot. Did you know Home Depot sells gingerbread house kits? Well, they do. And my big boys’ version came out great. I’d say they nailed it.

Gingerbread House Home Depot

Anyways. Maybe we’ll attempt another house this year. I find that Bigs just mostly squirts icing into his mouth and then throws candy in on top of that.

Gumdrops

I have no idea where he learned this behavior from.

<<Insert totally embarrassing photo of myself squirting Publix icing into my mouth during the cookie decorating portion of a Publix tour playdate. Hey! Don’t judge! Publix buttercream is literally THE BEST icing I’ve ever eaten. Try it. Then we’ll talk. PS – I didn’t eat the WHOLE bag of it!>>

Icing Volcano

And I blurred that picture. You can see enough. And trust me – that’s enough. I can’t bring any more shame to my family (LOL).

Here’s how I want to be remembered from that trip! Take note, real-life friends!

Publix Net

Hairnets are classier than an icing volcano erupting in my mouth by my own hands’ work!

Anyways. Enough of that embarrassing stuff.

Gingerbread. Yes. Just yes.

I’ll be making a soft, ginger cookie as one of my cookie choices for Christmas this year.

And today I made lovely gingerbread cakes.

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When I was mixing up the batter, it smelled so fragrant and spicy.

Cooling Gingerbread

And when the cakes were baking, the entire house was filled with that same delicious scent!

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And when those sweet little cakes were cooling, I just couldn’t even handle it.

It’s a family friend’s 10th birthday and I just wanted to surprise her and her family with a little dessert. I hope they like it! I used little gingerbread men sprinkles to decorate our friends’ cake. Look at all that drippy, yummy icing. Good grief! Yum!

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The link for the recipe is below. The only changes I made were using tangerine zest instead of lemon zest (it was all I had and it came out wonderfully) and I used half and half instead of milk. And for the icing, I made my own (did not use the recipe). I mixed some plain cream cheese with a little bit of icing sugar and frozen orange juice concentrate. I love keeping orange juice concentrate on hand. I use it all the time – for icings, stir fry and for homemade fruit snacks.

http://www.joyofbaking.com/GingerbreadCake.html

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The cakes came out beautifully. For ours, I used some holly sprinkles.

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Yum.

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I, of course, had to taste and take a photo, for the blog’s sake.

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It was really delicious, in case you’re wondering. I hope you were wondering…

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And it was a very easy recipe. The one bowl sort.

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A real looker!

So. Please do try that Joy of Baking recipe, if you are looking for a delicious, but easy, gingerbread cake recipe.

And Duncan, our elf, came again. He was in a stocking. Not so creative! HA! Hey, I am keeping expectations low. Saving the “fun” stuff for the end.

 Elf on a Shelf Day 2

Have a sweet and spicy, gingery sort of day!

Kristin

Not my Gumdrop Buttons

Happy December!

Happy December

Happy December! It’s a new month! A month that’s filled, already.

We took the first spin around our neighborhood last night looking at Christmas lights. Bigs is super in to it! It’s so exciting! Most of the homes in one cul-de-sac in our neighborhood collaborate with their Christmas lights and everything is lit up. It’s spectacular!

We had a visitor in our home this morning. He’ll be here through Christmas Eve. Duncan is his name, as you’ll recall, named after Dunkin’ Donuts, our favorite place.

Elf on a Shelf Day 1

Duncan plopped “himself” on my candy wreath. The oil painting is of our precious dog. So far, I have seen Bigs stop himself when about to complain and shift his eyes quickly to Duncan. Day 1 and he’s already doing his job as a “young scout elf”. Go Duncan.

We had our first advent church service. It was beautiful. The church was all decorated with trees and lights and stars and snowflakes. Absolutely stunning.

Also, I made pizza. I used my favorite whole wheat crust recipe and mozzarella cheese and pepperoni!

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The family gobbled it up.

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Enjoy your Sunday, the first day of December!

Kristin

Post Gravy Glow

I’m still glowing from my Thanksgiving experience. What? What’s that? I’m not glowing? It’s just gravy on my face? Oh. That’s okay. I really don’t mind. Slurrrrrp!

Over the river and through the woods

Well. Now it’s over. Thanksgiving is over. But I’m still thankful! I’m so thankful for the food that was served, the hands that prepared it, the time that was spent with family, the fresh, cold air. Boy, it sure was chilly out! We loved it! The kids had a wonderful time getting all bundled up and running around my Grandmother’s picturesque backyard. And me?! I loved it too! The cold weather is refreshing. Puts a little color in one’s cheeks!

Me

I jumped on the “selfie” bandwagon, for the sole purpose of my blog. Sue me HA! At least there were no duck lips. You’re welcome.

Thanksgiving really refreshed me. It always makes me feel so good inside to go to where I spent a lot of my childhood, to see my boys run around the same yard my brother and I did, chasing each other, whapping sticks on trees, falling in the mud. It is life, come full-circle. It’s so beautiful to me.

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The boys were SO adorable and had the best time. Listen, as a little aside, I see and am aware of the denim on denim situation on not one but, TWO, children, and I realize it’s not the most fashionable. Perhaps in another lifetime. But they were warm!! Their little exposed cheeks and noses were pink from the crisp air and running around.

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We even threw around a football. We are not a sporty family, but it was so fun playing “catch”. Look how teeny Smalls is holding that “HUGE” football. My little peanut.

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The weather was just perfect. I am so thankful for that. Beautiful sunlight, peeking through the wise, hundred-year-old oak trees made for a perfect backdrop to a gorgeous day.

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Teeny little Smalls (apt name!) loved the freedom to roam and play.

Uncle and Bigs

Bigs and my brother (his favorite Uncle) had so much fun trudging through the woods, wielding sticks, of course! Uncle taught him so many things.

And, at the end of the day, we only had a few casualties in the form of a scrape on Smalls’ nose, lips and hands from falling on the driveway while running, and some muddy shoes and jeans. I’d call that quite a success!

The food was absolutely delicious. Everyone outdid themselves. I adore seeing a potluck-style meal come together. It is so wonderful to me to see the best work of everyone, which is all so varied and lovingly prepared, in one kitchen and then later, on each plate.

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I could only do one round this time. I was so stuffed. And so blessed to be so.

I didn’t get any turkey pictures before (or after, really) it was sliced. But, it was GOOD. And the skin was crispy and salty, just as it should be. We had that glorious turkey, two kinds of stuffing, fruit salad, ham, broccoli and cheese casserole, green bean casserole, my macaroni casserole, whipped potatoes, honey & cinnamon glazed carrots, sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, two kinds of cranberry sauce, and rolls. Then the desserts. Our plates runneth(‘ed) over.

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I want it again. Like now. Too bad I finished off my leftovers as a second dinner once the boys were in bed. And pumpkin pie too. And a few bites of the coconut frosting from my rock cake (see below). I regret nothing. Well, maybe one thing – that I didn’t make a Thanks Be To The Sandwich…next time.

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The Coconut Cake I made was so beautiful, but I must be honest. It was dry as a bone. I was not so happy with it. It was dense. I love a dense cake. Many wedding cakes are dense and I love that. But it was dense and hard. Sort of like a rock. I had it properly wrapped and sealed in the fridge and I followed the recipe almost to a “T” (didn’t keep it in the fridge for 3 days, but instead 2 – and thank God for that!!), but there was just no hope. I think I’ll stick with my other recipe for next year. Big bummer! That face-sized slice just didn’t get finished. Thank goodness there were other desserts (Pumpkin Pie, Apple Crumble Pie, Key Lime Pie).

Now, it’s time to bask in the glow of a lovely holiday and then get my boo-tay in the gym gear for Christmas. And, for now, I’ll be thankful that I am not wearing any makeup and letting my face breathe and that I’m also not in the throngs of people fighting and pushing to get the best deals on Black Friday. My boys and I will stay inside and I’ll go crazy with cabin fever snuggle and cuddle on the couch in our jammies.

I’m so thankful. Just…thankful.

I hope you all had a very blessed, thank-filled day,

Kristin

Happy Thanksgiving 2013!

Away in a Manger Scene

We did it! We decorated for Christmas. We always do it the week of Thanksgiving since we travel on the day of and want our home to be Christmas-y upon our return. Bigs was SO excited! This will be a fun year with him. He “gets” it. Smalls, however, is just a typical one year old, plucking the Christmas balls off the tree, yelling, “BALL, BALL!!!”, and throwing them as hard as he can (and he’s freakishly strong) across the living room. I normally put a smaller tree up, as well, that is my “Sweets Tree”, where I put on only dessert and sweets themed ornaments. That one is, sadly, not up this year. I just don’t have the energy to watch Smalls around two trees. I have extra eyes on the back of my head to watch them, but they just aren’t enough. Perhaps next year.

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Bigs was very concerned that the Christmas tree would go away while he napped, while we were away for Thanksgiving and for any other event requiring us to leave the house. Which is a lot. Object permanence isn’t as ingrained as I’d thought. But that will make it more magical and more fun to show him as we get closer to the day. And for him, it’ll be like Groundhog Day, every morning! The tree will still be there, just like yesterday! It is just so wonderful to see this holiday through the eyes of a child. I know that is clichéd (I am shaking my own head at my own self right now), but it truly is.

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I just love that skinny little baby arm and hand (left), and that sweet toddler hand (right) coming together on an ornament, placing it on the tree in tandem. I am so in love with them.

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This is the first ornament Bigs made in church last year. I am only slightly concerned because it’s made of paper and you know, light-heat and paper don’t so much mix, but it was too precious not to put up. I love that he constantly sees the images of Mary and Joseph and Baby Jesus. Seeing it over and over will help him learn and then know, with certainty, the true meaning of Christmas. I am truly blessed and thankful for them and my husband.

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Jesus sure is the Reason for this season. Without Him, none of this would be. And that applies to just about everything.

Today I finished making my Coconut Cake. I used a different recipe this year. And as per the usual, I didn’t read the recipe the whole way through before starting on it. That’s how I do. It called for keeping an un-iced, filled cake in the fridge for three days. Luckily, I made the cakes and filling two days before Thanksgiving, so it still worked out. You really think I’d have learned, by now, to read a recipe all the way through before starting on it!

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http://www.cakeduchess.com/2013/11/coconut-cake-foodmemory-guest-post-magnolia-days.html

The only changes I made to the recipe were that I used sweetened coconut in the filling and used less sugar since it didn’t really specify that the coconut used was sweetened or not. I also added about a half teaspoon of coconut flavored baking emulsion to really enhance that coconut flavor.

http://www.amazon.com/LorAnn-Oils-Emulsion-Coconut-Ounce/dp/B001REJIJM

I love how when I pat the coconut on the frosting, it falls all around the plate like freshly fallen snow. It’s such a show-stopper of a cake (if I can be so bold to say so – I simply just followed the recipe!). So very festive. I cannot wait to eat that piece as big as my face, that I promise myself each year.

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I also got my Aunt Sue’s Macaroni Casserole made. It is a cinch to throw together and is so delicious. Here is the little beauty going in to the oven.

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And here she is coming out…melty, ooey, gooey, cheesy goodness.

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I can’t wait to dig into it tomorrow.

Here is the recipe.

Bigs and I made pumpkin muffins for breakfast and snack tomorrow. It was a fun little activity for us to do together while Smalls was still napping.

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We used a shortcut and made them with a store bought cake mix (vanilla). We added one can of pumpkin puree to the vanilla cake mix and stirred like the dickens. We added some ginger and cinnamon and some pumpkin spice bakery emulsion. We baked them in a 350 degree oven for about 20 – 25 minutes.

http://www.amazon.com/Lorann-Oils-Pumpkin-Emulsion-4oz/dp/B00BR25W9E

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I also put together a snack bento for Bigs for the Thanksgiving car trip. We aren’t going TOO far, but snacks make for a more pleasant ride.

Preschool Thanksgiving Road Trip Snacks

I packed a string cheese, a clementine some 5-grain crackers, a box of raisins, some Newman’s Own popcorn and one of our pumpkin spice muffins. Smalls will have less exciting snacks, in the form of Cheerios. 🙂 I will pack both of them an applesauce squeezy fruit.

Thanksgiving Subway

I hope you all have a VERY blessed, safe, thankful and HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Enjoy the time with your family and friends. And if that’s not how it’s going to turn out, it’s what you make of it! And to those going through hardships and heartache, may you feel God’s warm, loving embrace and presence, and may you find comfort in Him and the blessings (big and small) you have. There is always, ALWAYS something to be thankful for. God Bless.

I am so thankful for all my friends and family, near and far. And I’m thankful to God for all the blessings He gifts us (and even those He does not!) And I’m also thankful for this blog and all who read it and support me. It means so much more than you can even know. So, thank you. Happy Happy Thanksgiving.

Kristin

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Bible Study & Pot Pie

Thanksgiving Day1

I’m a thinker. I over analyze. I put too much emphasis on small things. I get very nostalgic and more self-aware around holidays. So, for me, personally, really deeply thinking about what I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving comes as no surprise. I just want to make sure that I remember these things I am thankful for throughout the whole year…not just when we are faced with the holiday or a hard time.

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The Bible has a lot to say about being thankful and I’d like to delve into some verses. I need constant guidance in my faith journey and am hoping the study of some verses will help. Nothing better than learning from the source! Join me? I am in, no way, a teacher or in an authoritative position for this. I am simply a Christian wanting and needing to deepen my relationship with Christ.

thanksgiving bible quotes

It’s so hard to remember to thank God for things during tough times. It’s hard to see the “bigger picture” and know that those challenges are truly a piece of God’s plan for us. We question, “Why?” and “Why me?”, but easily forget to continue praising Him for the work He is doing behind the scenes.

Happy-Thanksgiving-website

C.S. Lewis wrote, “We ought to give thanks for all fortune: if it is good, because it is good, if bad, because it works in us patience, humility and the contempt of this world and the hope of our eternal country.” I think this applies to more than just our worldly “fortune”.

The Bible says, in Philippians 4:6, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” It’s easy to ask God for help during the hard times, but what’s not so easy is to also thank Him during those times as well. This is one of my go-to Bible verses because it touches on the topic of anxiety, of which I know very well. But I need to also focus more on the topic of thanks when presenting my prayer requests to God.

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So. Praying WITH Thanksgiving. Andrew Murray, a South African missionary and minister wrote, “Let us thank God heartily as often as we pray that we have His Spirit in us to teach us to pray. Thanksgiving will draw our hearts out to God and keep us engaged with Him; it will take our attention from ourselves and give the Spirit room in our hearts.” Boy, isn’t that the truth?

What I am getting from this is that, no matter the circumstances, no matter the hardships, no matter how easy it is to forget, I need to be thankful in all that I do. Thankful for what I have. Thankful for what I don’t have, for surely there is some reason for that. A small story: My oldest son, Bigs, shows his thankfulness in a way that can certainly teach me a thing or two. I told him a long time ago, when we saw and heard an ambulance rushing past us, that we should pray for those who are in need of the help and also thank God for our own safety. Years later, and yes, it was years ago that I told this to him, when he hears an ambulance, he comes running to me (or says to me, if in the car), “Mom! We need to pray for the ‘helf people’ [help people – that’s his word for anything with a siren]!” and he proceeds to thank God for keeping us safe. That is just a small act of giving thanks coming from a three and a half year old. But it’s not so small. It’s pretty big and I give God the glory for his empathetic heart, where the love of Jesus is evident.

Let me make an aside: my kids are no where near perfect in behavior or attitude and I am quite the opposite of perfect, so sweet stories of my children are not to come off in a way that I think my kids are perfection (which, in the Mommy sense, of COURSE they are perfection; they are fearfully and wonderfully made and hand crafted just for me to love). I hope you understand what I mean.

Thankfulness

God also tells us, in more than on verse, to show our thanks with praise and song! I adore hearing my Bigs sing his church songs with such gusto! “God our Father, God our Father, once again, once again, thank you for our blessings, thank you our blessings, Amen, Amen – yaaaay God!”

“Sing to the LORD with thanksgiving; make music to our God on the harp.” – Psalm 147:7

“Praise the LORD. Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” – Psalm 106:1

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.” – Psalm 100:4

I’m going to end on a note of dinner. Good note to end on!

Last night, I made a dinner to be thankful for! I mean, I am thankful for any dinner that makes it onto the table not burnt or smoking. I made a chicken pot pie from scratch, using a pre-made pie crust. Well, then, I suppose that isn’t entirely homemade, but that’s a minor detail. I have no time for making a pie crust from scratch if it isn’t being stocked to the brim with some kind of chocolate, fruity or nutty filling.

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I browned onions and celery in some olive oil with some salt and pepper. At the same time, I boiled boneless, skinless chicken breast fillets in chicken stock. I cubed the chicken once it was cooked through. Once the celery and onion mixed were cooked, I made a quick roux out of 1 T of butter and 2 T of flour. Once the flour “flavor” was cooked out, I added chicken stock and a little bit of half & half. Once that gravy thickened up, I added the cubed chicken, celery and onions, and a bunch of frozen veggies (corn, carrots, green beans and peas). I then put it on top of the bottom crust, added the top crust and cut out a steam vent in the shape of a turkey. I baked it. It was delicious. Everyone ate it, except for Smalls, who is in a phase (short-lived, I hope) where he eats almost nothing. But if he were into eating, he’d have loved it too!

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Have a very blessed, very thank-FILLED day,

Kristin

Thanksgiving End

A Beautiful Sight, Happy Tonight

Sleigh Bells Ring

Sleigh bells ring! Can you hear them? If you squint (I have to squint to see practically anything and you know what? When I’m trying to listen really hard, I squint then, too. I’m too young for such problems!!) and listen really hard, you can probably hear them! It’s so close! Christmas is so close! Can you believe it?! It is just slightly over four weeks away! That’s only four weeks to shop (and to write Santa) and to plan your baking and cooking and to celebrate Jesus and the Advent. Oh. And to get that dreadful Elf out of the back of your closet. I almost forgot. Oops. I love him, I do. He’s part of our family now. Duncan is very sweet, you know, for a pretend elf filled with cotton stuffing and wire. It’s just that I have to think of so many different things for him to do each night! And I’m just so tired at the end of the day! It’s okay though. Truly, if it makes Bigs and Smalls happy, then I am happy. I’ll rally. I can man up. Thank goodness for Pinterest – it does most of thinking for me on this one!

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I know that for me, getting this close to Christmas means that I lots of wrapping to do, cookies to bake, four beautiful Advent church services to attend, Christmas themed kid lunches to dream up and make, Christmas parties and playdates to enjoy and lots more. Busy busy busy. I don’t know how I’ll do it. Some days (every day??), the energy just isn’t there. But the spirit of Christmas will keep me going!

What will you bake to bring to your Christmas or holiday parties? Perhaps I can share some grainy (lol) pictures and a few recipes?

Christmas-Holiday-Graphics

I love baking for the holidays. I love finding new recipes and trying them out. I don’t think I’ve made the same thing twice. It seems like every year, there are so many new and exciting recipes to try. I used to try to make about 5 different kinds of cookies, but as my children have grown, my time to devote to such things has lessened, and so has the variety of cookies I make. But that’s okay! The ones I DO bake, hopefully, make up for the lack in assortment. And I enjoy making cakes and bars, as well. Those are more for the parties rather than the cookie tins, but fun, nonetheless. I also like to try new recipes for those each year.

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I ADORE fresh cranberries. They are so deliciously tart. I love their shiny, red coat and their delightful pop when eaten. I prefer fresh over dried for most recipes. This Cranberry Cream Cheese Bundt Cake was divine. I served it sliced with Sugared Cranberries in the middle. I love those things. I could eat the whole lot.

http://www.jasonandshawnda.com/foodiebride/archives/1218/

http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/sugared-cranberries-10000000554659/

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Here is another presentation where I used the Sugared Cranberries. I added a few sprigs of fresh mint. I love love love fresh mint. The cookies are soft, chewy iced ginger cookies. I actually don’t have a favorite recipe for this one. I seem to lose the recipe each year, having to search out a new one. I like them chewy, not hard, and soft, but not crumbly soft. But…I’ll eat any kind you place in front of me.

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Now, these…these were simple. I made boxed brownies (before I was super “daring” and made my own) and used a Christmas tree cookie cutter. I then made a simple icing sugar glaze and added green food coloring. After spreading that on the trees, I added red sprinkles and a teeny white star sprinkle atop each tree. For the cookies, I added peppermint extract to a boxed sugar cookie mix and used the same glaze as the trees (only with red coloring) and added crushed peppermints on top. This was easy. Not gourmet. I’d like to think I’ve come a long way. But this is still cute if one is in a time crunch!

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Staying in the cookie(ish) family are these lovely Lofthouse Style Sugar Cookie Bars. You know those frosted cookies you see (frosted to match the color of whatever holiday is near) in the front of almost every grocery store bakery, that are so oddly expensive and so ridiculously delicious and soft? Well, these are those. In a bar form. Like a whole pan can just sit on your lap and you can just use a fork. I mean, if that’s the sort of thing that you do. I don’t do that. Ever.

http://cookiesandcups.com/lofthouse-sugar-cookie-bars/

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And lastly, for now of course, you can transform just about anything into a dessert worthy of the proverbial “Holiday Table” by adding festive sprinkles. They (I) don’t call me (myself) “Sprinkles in my Lunchbox” for nuffin’ (as Bigs would say)!! I found these adorable sprinkles (a mix made of Christmas trees, gingerbread boys, candy canes and snowflakes) at Ross. This is a simple Texas Sheet Cake (no favorite recipe, although, people…just you know, people, swear by The Pioneer Woman’s recipe).

http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2007/06/the_best_chocol/

Christmas cupcakes

Have a blessed, sweet Monday,

Kristin