Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas Day Brunch at Our Home

Each year I host our Christmas day brunch.
I set the table on Christmas Eve before heading to my parent's house for dinner.

{The vintage pinecone ornaments are new this year.
Found on my day of nutcracker "antiquing" with Andrew}

I think brunch is my favorite meal for entertaining.
So much can be prepared ahead of time, it's a bit more casual, 
all the clean up is finished by 1:30 {In theory. I'm still cleaning up a day later},
and everyone is usually pretty hungry.

The Menu
Hashbrown Potatoes
Mixed Berry Salad
Orange Juice
{click on item for recipe link}

{I used frozen hashbrowns from Trader Joes, cooked in olive oil + a little kosher salt.
The berries were sprinkled with sugar 2 hours before brunch.
The sugar brings out the juice and creates a yummy sauce.}

I'd like to pretend that everyone sat down and enjoyed
a nice leisurely breakfast, but the truth is we sort of ate in shifts.
My 2 year old nephew was asleep on arrival and 
remained so, cuddled in my sister in law's arms.
My furry four legged sister....

...just happened to be the same height as the kid's table,
so she required some adult supervision while the children were eating.
There was a lot of running around and anxious anticipation with the boys, especially mine,
because at 12:00 PM on Christmas day they still had this waiting under the tree...

After my family left, we spent 2 hours opening gifts.
I'd bet my children were the last in our town to open their presents.
I love that they took their time. 
That they played with each gift after it had been opened, that we opened one at a time.
No rush, no frantic tearing into the paper. 
I'm really not sure how we became so civilized about gift opening.
I realize this is highly usual behavior for children my age,
but trust me, they make up for it by being highly rambunctious in plenty of other ways.

I know everyone is likely all Christmas pictured and posted out, 
but I do still have a few more pictures coming...
Just one more post before we wrap up 2011.
Hope your Christmas was filled with a little magic too!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Joy to the World...

The Lord is come.
Let earth receive her King.
Let every heart prepare Him room.
And heaven and nature sing.
And heaven and nature sing.

Merry Christmas, sweet friends!
Thank you for being in my life.
You are a gift.
Even if you only visit here occasionally and never say
hello, I thank you for taking the time to read.
And for those that do leave comments and send emails,
your kind words inspire me to keep this blogging thing going.

Many blessings to you & yours!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Cookies & Crafts

Hi, I'm momentarily resurfacing from the land of felt, scissors, glue, glitter and cinnamon to share links to the recipes + projects keeping us busy this week.  If you've read my blog for any length of time you know that I'm not all too much of a crafter.  In fact, I'm a bit of a deer in the headlights when I try to navigate my way through the aisles of Hobby Lobby.  And navigate I did, for the likes of mysterious unknowns such as the liquid glycerin and epoxy glue needed for some of this week's ideas.  I'm also not a step by step tutorial kind of blogger either {the cake pop post literally took me four days to write}, but lucky for all of us there are others who are brilliant at explaining and tutorialing so I will link to them.  Have fun!  These have been BIG, BIG hits with my boys.

no. 1} snowflakes ~ with no sign of snow, we created our own with giant snowflakes for the playroom.

6 sheets of computer paper + scissors + tape + stapler
takes about 10 minutes per snowflake. 
perfect for 3rd grader with a little help from me. 
instant gratification and no trip to the store required!

no. 2} mason jar snow globes

{we let the glue set up overnight}

mason jar with lid + glitter + water + liquid glycerin 
{found with soap making supplies in craft store, can also buy at drugstore} 
+ small little toys/ornaments + epoxy or crazy glue. 
both boys helped with these. 
i did the gluing, they did the rest.

no 3.} soft sugar cookies + butter cream frosting

my recipe notes:
i creamed butter + sugar , 
then added 1 egg at time + vanilla, 
then mixed in dry ingredients.  
i also used a little more milk in the buttercream frosting.

no. 4} gingerbread houses
{take note of decapitated gretel on top of charlie's house, a lovely festive touch!}

kits from trader joes.  
the best premade kit i've ever used. 
nice thick gingerbread, assembles in a snap, with all natural ingredients to boot.  
no artificial color in the candy either. bam! i love TJs.  
easy enough for a 3 year old to construct, 
though not so easy to resist eating. 
you need to make the icing with the powdered sugar in the kit.  
just add egg white and a few drops lemon juice.  
i placed icing in disposable pasty bags with the tip cut off.

no. 5} ruffled felt Christmas trees

styrofoam cone + felt + scissors + straight pins + optional embellishments 
i skipped the iron on waxpaper step.
perfect for 3rd grader to complete independently. 
 this was so fun with just the right amount of time to keep his attention. 
can you tell which one andrew made and which on i made?

no. 6} cinnamon and sugar monkey bread + gift tag

my recipe notes:
i used a 36 count Rhodes dinner roll bag, 
divided into three paper bundt pans from the container store. 
i assembled it the night before and baked in the morning.
do not cover with a damp cloth, it will make the paper bundt pans damp,
just cover with saran wrap coated with cooking spray.
place bundt pans on a parchment lined baking sheet to rise  
cook bundt pans on the same lined baking sheet.  
we took them to neighbors still warm.  
serious yum. a new tradition is born. 
so much easier than making lots of cookies and a little unexpected.

I've got a few more ideas up my sleeve.  I'll blog about them if they turn out to be a success.  But maybe not till after Christmas...

Monday, December 19, 2011

Christmas Red

We have a busy week of crafts and baking planned.  Well, at least that is what I envision.  Sometimes the best of intentions don't always come to fruition.  I was reminded few weeks ago how much conversation transpires between mother and child when crafting, as Andrew and I glued buttons on a frame together at Charlie's Cookie with Santa event.  In an effort to recapture that, I collected a few craft ideas that we could try at home.  Hopefully, simple enough for the smallest hands to help, but interesting enough to keep a 9 year old engaged.  I'll let you know how they go.  Today gingerbread houses {pre-boxed, not homemade} and vintage nutcracker searching are on the agenda.

In the spirit of all this traditional Christmas activity, I thought I'd share a few pictures from my files and pinterest with my favorite traditional Christmas color, RED.  It wouldn't be Christmas with out it in my home.  We when were first married, I wanted all crimson and gold, then it was white and linen, and  about 9 years, I threw it all out and returned to red and green and haven't looked back since.  You can never have too much red ribbon at Christmas!! 

{traditional home, scanned by me}

{traditional home, scanned by me}

{traditional home}

{house & home}

{traditional home, scanned by me}

{martha stewart}

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Concerts & Candy Cane Cake Pops

We've been busying singing and baking, baking and singing!
{and shipping and writing and wrapping and shopping...}
We enjoyed Andrew's Christmas concert on Tuesday.
My little bow tie clad boy was the cutest on stage. 
I loved watching Charlie take it all in and chime along when he knew the words.
I listened to my boys build a massive train track {TOGETHER}
while singing Christmas songs {TOGETHER} for more than
an hour while I prepared dinner the other night.
Can I even begin to tell you how happy moments like that make me?!
It is rarely so civilized.

I donned my kitchen apron and got to baking.
I'm really not much of a baker.
I enjoy it to a point, but prefer cooking.
After discovering Andrew's sensitivity to artificial ingredients, baking became
a necessity if he was going to get special treats.
So for his class Christmas party, I decided to treat the whole class to homemade cake pops.
Just call me Miss Bakerella.  Haha.  No, but I have a new found appreciation for her!!

These were a labor of love.
A slightly fussy recipe of my own creation, 
that I probably wouldn't make again if they didn't taste so incredibly delish.
I've never eaten a cake pop before so I had nothing to compare it to, 
something about mushed up cake and frosting on a stick never appealed to me.
Until now.  I get it.  They aren't just cute.  They are YUM-MY!
If you make them, I would suggest making the cake and frosting mixture the day before.

chocolate + candy cane cake pops
recipe for chocolate cake
recipe for cream cheese frosting
candy canes
white sparkling decorative sugar
4 bags of white chocolate chips

Cool cake completely {several hours} and crumble in a large mixing bowl.
Add frosting to cake crumbles and knead together using your hands until well combined.
Refrigerate at least 1 hour or over night. 
Scoop and roll cake into balls.Place on parchment lined baking sheets.
Refrigerate for 1-2 hours.
Crush candy canes between sheets of wax paper using mallet or hammer.
{Combine with sparkling sugar. 
Use as much as you fancy!}
Melt white chocolate slowly in microwave, in small batches 
{1/2 bag at a time}
Removing 6 cake balls at a time from the fridge, put a lollipop stick in and dip and coat in the melted chocolate, sprinkle with topping.

Set on parchment to dry.
They will harden quickly.
Freeze or leave at room temp.
Do not refrigerate.
Makes about 50 cake pops.

{TIP ~ the cake balls are easiest to coat when very cold.  The closer they get to room temp the softer they become and they can fall apart or slide off the stick}

chocolate cake
2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1.5 tsp baking powder
1.5 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup veg. oil
1 cup boiling water

preheat oven to 350.
grease and flour cake pan.
combine all dry ingredients.
make a well.
add milk, eggs, oil,
beat on med. 2 min.
stir in boiling water.
bake 35 minutes

cream cheese frosting
8 oz cream cheese
2 cups powdered sugar
4 tbs butter
1 tbs milk

whip till smooth

Sunday, December 11, 2011

sweet little teacher gifts

{ignore the dirty windows! gesh!}

charlie's last day of preschool before break is tomorrow.
i think most classes collect money and buy a gift, but it sure is sweet
to give just a little something personal too.
i know my kiddos love to do it.

1.} a paperwhite kit from trader joes
2.} a spring of fresh greens
3.} a little pretty ribbon
4.} a scrap of white burlap stitched into a gift sack 
(i used my sewing machine, took 10 seconds)
5.} a card {not pictured}

if you are curious this is my favorite, favorite brand of ribbon...

{i buy it at the container store, but you should be able to order on-line too}

off to make 5 more...

Friday, December 9, 2011

Party on a School Night...

Last night I hosted our mom's group Christmas party.
It is group of local moms [about 100 of us, I think} with preschool age children.
We meet each month and host activities for young children throughout the year.
Last night was our December meeting and holiday party for the mamas.  
I agreed last summer to host it at our house.
Thankfully, I didn't need to prepare food, just clean the house 
and keep the boys out of the way for an evening. 
 It was a fun night and I didn't take a single picture.  What sort of blogger am I?
I did snap pictures beforehand.  
This is likely the tidiest our house will be this December, so come on in....

{Carrye, I shamelessly copied your ribbons on our bookcase wreaths! :)}

I love Christmas in our home to feel cozy and filled with tradition.
I love hanging the little Danish window ornaments from my Dad and Mormor (Danish grandma),
I love seeing my lifelong collection of bear ornaments from my Mum hanging
alongside handmade ornaments from my children on the tree,
I love seeing the Christmas themed gifts given by dear friends propped
on the bookcase or hanging on the wall,
I still like traditional red and green,
lots of white candles and wreaths.
Our home and December activities tend to look the same
each year and I like it that way.
Have a great weekend!

{linking up to Cottage & Vine Home Tour}