The holidays are coming and I’m getting excited!

35 Days of CelebrationIntroducing my plan for the 35 Days of Celebration! Last year I almost made it through blogging about my 41 Days of Celebration, but towards the end got a little too preoccupied. Last year (which can be found here, here, here or here) I did a LOT of cooking with a classic, baking, & watching Doctor Who (which is NOT a bad way to spend the season). This year will be slightly different, but still some of the same. Now since I didn’t quite get all of the days posted last year I’ll see if I can make it through this time around. Once again have a LOT planned. Something everyday from Thanksgiving (November 28) through New Year’s Day. This is merely an introductory post, so if you are looking for a list of Holiday ideas (like I was) I hope this serves as a good reference and generates some fun ideas. Here are the days they I’ve compiled from various blogs and sites as I have them planned out right now. Granted these are as if I were to live a simple hermit life, which, as a lack of posts over the last six months implies, I don’t quite live anymore.

The list:

  1. Go Christmas Tree Hunting & Thanksgiving
  2. Atkins Thanksgiving (extended family)
  3. Create a Christmas Music Mix (to be listening to for the month)
  4. Holiday Movie Night #1
  5. Wrap Christmas Presents
  6. Make a Gingerbread (or Graham Cracker) House
  7. Holiday Movie Night #2 & Make paper chains/snowflakes
  8. Make Homemade Ornaments
  9. Decorate Christmas Tree
  10. Decorate House
  11. French Toast & Hot Chocolate for Dinner
  12. Design Paper Nativity Scene
  13. Holiday Movie Night #3
  14. Design & Mail Out Christmas Cards
  15. Bake Christmas Cookies
  16. Decorate Christmas Cookies
  17. Make a Fort & Holiday Movie Night #4
  18. Red & Green Food Day
  19. Go Ice Skating
  20. Make a Snow globe
  21. Make Stocking Stuffers
  22. Cook Christmas Fudge
  23. Holiday Movie Night #5 & Sleepover Under the Christmas Tree
  24. Candlelight Fancy Dinner
  25. Make Dipped Pretzels
  26. Holiday Movie Night #6 (I have a lot of holiday movies thanks to my family)
  27. Read the Christmas Story
  28. Christmas Day with the Family
  29. Chestnuts Over an Open Fire (Marshmallows too!!)
  30. Hot Chocolate & Candy Canes
  31. Make Hot Chocolate Balls
  32. Holiday Movie Night #7
  33. Make Homemade Mulled Wine
  34. Holiday Movie Night #8 & Make New Year’s Resolution
  35. Take Down Decorations While Having a Christmas Music Dance Party

That’s the plan, but I’m sure that my friends and family will alter and enhance the plan. In fact I know of a work tradition (going on the tour of homes) that is missing. Oh well, looks like I’ll double up more.

Until next time
~ Q

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41 days of Celebration: Days 23-36

Day 23: Friday, December 14: WHO Friday
I know, I know, not as good of a ring as “WHO Wednesday” but I realized I had forgotten an Christmas episode when I looked at how many there were vs how many Wednesdays there were during this season of celebration. I always forget this episode exists because it falls in that grey area of after a season but before the specials so it really is just a trick. Anyway instead of watching a movie Friday night I watched The Next Doctor episode. Only it was a lie! He wasn’t the next doctor (hence no Matt Smith) but 10’s hair was once again fabulous. Seriously, sign me up for that job.

Day 24: Saturday, December 15: War Horse/Tree Decorating
IMG_2910 Nothing says Christmas like carnage right? That’s what I found when I went to War Horse. That play is phenomenal. Who ever developed that deserves a gold star. I was shocked at how they were able to portray even a slight degree of the genuine terribleness (bad word, sorry) of war. *Spoiler* There was this scene where the horses were going into battle. There were the two main horses at the front of the stage and then a handful of others lined up next/behind them (they were standing parallel to the front of the stage charging the other side). As they are charging machine fire starts and bombs start to fly. All of a sudden you see the torso of a man fly off one of the horses. Very blunt, it put things in sharp focus and it was only a puppet. Only during intermission was my mind able to process that the back horses had never had actors on them, but it was too late. The die had been cast and the impression made. Spoiler over. Anyway, I really enjoyed the play although I don’t know if I could go through that emotional rollar coster again. It was quite tasking in that way, I cried twice, so exhausting.

IMG_2908Afterwards, once we returned home my sister and I set about decorating the Christmas tree. This was the first year we got a blue spruce (usually go with a fir of some sort) and it was fun getting something new. Although we did have to wear gloves to decorate it, the needles were pretty spiky, but the end result was quite lovely and new.

Day 25: Sunday, December 16: Cooking/Classic (Little Women)
IMG_3126It was a fabulous day of cooking, although I should have read the instructions more clearly. Then I would have known I was making five dozen sugar cookies. Ah well, the more the merrier, right? I also made Ninja bread men and bark. Two kinds of bark, one would have done, but peppermint and M&M were made and enjoyed. Later that day, after the cookies had been rolled and cooled I popped in Little Women which is always bittersweet. I enjoy the movie so much, but it is so very sad, bits of it anyway. This viewing of it was just the same in that regards.

Day 26: Monday, December 17: Mail out Christmas Cards
Christmas LettersI finally met my goal of getting my cards out on Monday!! Yes, later than I expected, but done…and before Christmas to boot. So that was a good ‘Christmas’ task done. The picture is a bit rough, decided to use the digital file for showing the inside and the lighting in my apartment is special so that’s why they don’t quite match up – color wise.

Day 27: Tuesday, December 18: Wrap family presents
PresentsLast year we tried to implement everyone wrapping with a different color, why I can’t recall. Since we all live apart that was pretty easy to do. I have been on a green kick (if the Christmas cards weren’t a clue) so I continued that onto the wrapping I did for my family. (Which worked out because only one other family member did green and she chose dark green.) I even decided to print out some special cards at work. I figured eventually my nephew will be in charge or handing out so I designed the tags to have both faces and names (since he wont really be able to read at first). Now if I can only remember where the files are next year…

Day 28: Wednesday, December 19: WHO Wednesday
Ah, one of the saddest Christmas Specials to date, A Christmas Carol. Well, both of Eleven’s are pretty sad (or make me cry at least). I really quite enjoy this one, it may be my favorite. Actually, I’m pretty sure it is, and I quite enjoy how it parallels The Christmas Carol (hence it being titled the same) but has it’s own twists (Like Amy Pond/Williams being the ghost of Christmas present). Anyway, continuing with the WHO Wednesday was the first of Matt Smith’s Christmas specials and he does it justice, of course.

Day 29: Thursday, December 20: Finish presents for my pals
IMG_3130I decided to get my gal pals gifts that could only be gotten (bad grammar I know, but not sure which other word to use, acquired?) in Story City. Oh what fun that was. I had already picked out little figurines for them but made them notepads at work to go with them as well. Finally finished the notepads and was able to wrap them too (it was a bit of a shoty job though, it’s hard to wrap hippos and pigs, and don’t get me started on eagles).

Day 30: Friday, December 21: CLEAN / photo booth props
I was hosting a holiday party so I needed to get things cleaned up. I had the food done (since I’ve been baking sweets all month) but did need to get the apartment ready. I also quickly cut out some photo props, although they pretty much went on used except one photo (below) since I had them out of sight behind the photo curtain, out of sight out of mind and unused. Brilliant Jamie, just brilliant.

Day 31: Saturday, December 22: Holiday PHoliday Propsarty
As stated above I had a party. My mom commented that she wasn’t sure where my oldest sister and I got these ideas about having Christmas party, but to me it comes to no surprise. My mom is the great instigator of bringing family together, especially around the holidays (hence we usually have 20+ grown adults at our house for a long Thanksgiving weekend. People on top of people for three days, but it’s family so you let it pass). And since friends are the family we choose why wouldn’t I want to bring them together. Okay stepping off my box now, I had a mini reunion with all of my friends (many from high school) and it was nice to be together and catch up for the evening. Shenanigans were had and memories were made, the best byproducts of any gathering, right?

Day 32: Sunday, December 23: Finish presents / ‘Cooking’ but no classic
Some how I still had last minute presents. It’s not like Christmas was a surprise or anything but I spent most of the day inefficiently finishing the design on some personalized planners for my mom and dad. Dad asked for a calendar, I did one further and decided to do a weekly calendar. Then I decided if I had all the work done it wouldn’t be that hard to then replace all the photos for my mom to have her own version. Took forever, granted I had the television on in the background which I’m sure ups my time by 50% or so..so there’s that. But it was worth it in the end because they loved them (I think, they certainly seemed to).

Bath CrayonsOh, I also realized that I had a TON of goodies. I guess I didn’t really keep count of just how many tupperwares I was filling while I’ve been baking over the last month. However that didn’t keep me out of the kitchen, oh no, I just didn’t make the Bon-bons and other miscellaneous things I was going to try. Instead I tried making home made bath crayons for my nephew. I HATE melting stuff in the microwave but it felt weird to put soap on the stove to melt so I tried it. I’m pretty sure these will crumble as soon as they hit the water but hopefully he can get one use out of them.

Day 33: Monday, December 24: Last minute wrapping / journey to my parents
I worked a half day and then headed home. It was a bit of a surprise that my eldest sister’s family wouldn’t get there until right before bed but that was no big deal, the rest of us had a mini-cribbage tournament. I did fairly well for never playing before, I got second (out of four) so that was fun. I didn’t do as well the following day in our six-person tournament. But that’s fine, I’m now a bit addicted to playing cribbage though, whoops.

Day 34: Tuesday, December 25: CHRISTMAS DAY IS FINALLY HERE!!!!
Typical Christmas:

  • Wake up semi-early (this year to a screaming/excited two year old)
  • Marathon unwrapping of presents
    (complete with the enjoyment that comes from surprising others)
  • Enjoy gifts
  • Take naps
  • Enjoy fabulous Christmas Dinner
  • Family movie (we watched Star Wars Episode 4 this year, that’s why my family is awesome)
  • Cribbage tournament

Day 35: Wednesday, December 26: WHO Wednesday
Although there was a new WHO episode premiered on Christmas Day (I believe) I didn’t watch that one, nope. I finished up with the old ones. (Not entirely sure if the new one is available in the states or not.) This week it was the The Doctor, The Widow and the Wardrobe. Par for Doctor Who it was magical, simple (yet epic), dangerous and done in time for Christmas.

Day 36: Thursday, December 27: Christmas Vacation
Compliments of my sister, I know have a handful of Holiday movies. I decided I couldn’t wait until next year and cracked open Christmas Vacation. I haven’t seen this movie in forever and it certainly made me laugh. Good grief Griswolds, nothing ever goes right.

Christmas Cooking: Fantastic Fudge

FudgeOh Fudge, how fun it is and so varying. I made 5 kinds on the Ninth, only technically two of them were from the same original recipe, I just altered it a bit.

Simple Fudge: Take 1

SimpleFudgeCompliments of Better Homes and Gardens I didn’t make too many changes, mainly I didn’t make my first batch with nuts. There is something to be said about the name: Simple. It may be the name of it, and it was simple, but more importantly even though it may have been more complicated then the three ingredient mint, I think it was my favorite version. The consistency was really nice and the possibilities of variation are endless.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 – 5 oz can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups small marshmallows
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

  1. Line a 8x8x2 baking pan with foil, butter lining and set aside
  2. Butter sides of a large saucepan and combine sugar, evaporated milk, and butter. (I put the butter in first and turned on the heat to let the butter melt a bit before adding the next two ingredients). Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture boils. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring constantly, for 6 minutes. Don’t get sidetracked and decide to eat a clementine during this time, you may burn the fudge the mixture a little if you do.
  3. Remove saucepan from heat and add remaining ingredients. Mix until marshmallows and chocolate have melted and everything is fully combined.
  4. Spread fudge evenly in prepared pan. I placed mine in the fridge for twenty minutes before scoring into squares. Cover and chill for 2 to 3 (or until firm).
  5. Once firm use foil to lift out of pan and fully cut fudge (if you didn’t earlier. I had so it pulled apart rather easily).
  6. Store tightly covered in fridge for up to 1 month.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge

CookieDoughFudgeI was surprised that this one had flour in it, that really threw me. Also, this was the recipe that required me to nearly burn my face off to check the thermometer. Also, mine did not look like the one on the blog I found the recipe but that’s okay (obviously).

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup half-and-half (original recipe called for using 1/4 cup milk and 3/4 cup heavy cream)
  • 1 Tbs corn syrup
  • 3/4 tsp  sea salt
  • 2 Tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Spray an 8×8 inch  baking dish with cooking spray and set aside.
  2. In a 3-quart saucepan, combine the sugars, cream, milk, corn syrup and salt.
  3. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 242 degrees (ie the soft-ball stage).
  4. Remove from heat and stir in the butter, vanilla, and flour.
  5. Adding the flour made it crumbly so I skipped some of the other directions, poured it into a dish and covered with chocolate chips, then immediately popped it in the fridge to stop them from melting too much.
  6. Let set for at least two hours, cut into squares and store in an airtight container.

Funfetti Cake Batter Fudge

FunfettiFudgeI altered the recipe, or rather the directions from the original. Mainly because I have terrible luck when it comes to microwaving chocolate. I have a hard enough time not burning the chocolate when I’m constantly watching it in a pot. Anyway yeah, if you want microwave directions check out the original post.

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 3.5 cups white chocolate chips
  • 3 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/2 tsp Almond Extract
  • Rainbow Sprinkles

Directions:

  • Pour milk and white chocolate into pan and heat until chips are melting and blend both until smooth.
  • Add vanilla and almond and combine thoroughly.
  • In the original directions
  • Immediately add vanilla and almond and combine thoroughly.
  • Transfer to an aluminum-foil lined baking pan. Sprinkle fudge generously with sprinkles. Put in refrigerator until set.
  • Once set, cut into cubes (and peel off foil). Store leftover in an airtight container in a cool place.

3 Ingredient Fudge

3 Ingredient MintLikewise with the funfetti I adapted this one to be a stove-top over microwave venture. Backwards huh? Usually people want to go from stove to microwave not the other way around. Original recipe from Made (I like the header)

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 14 oz can condensed milk
  • 1 – 14 oz package of semi sweet chocolate chips.
  • 1 – 10 oz package of Andes mint chips
  • Optional garnish: Crushed Candy Cane (I only used 1 but kind of wish I had used more because I only had enough to cover half of the fudge)

Directions:

  1. In pot combine chocolate, Andes mint chips and condensed milk; mix
  2. heat until mixture is smooth
  3. pour in to lined pan (I poured some, then added some food coloring, did NOT fully mix it in, I liked the marble look)
  4. sprinkle with garnish and pop in fridge to cool
  5. once set, cut into pieces and store in cool place

Simple Fudge: Take 2 – Simple Mint Fudge

SimpleMintLike I said earlier the possibilities for variation are endless. The original post had a peanut butter option, and I was going to go that route but apparently I decided to make more mint stuff. I had planned on using both vanilla and mint (hence both are in the photo) but instead just substituted mint for vanilla. I also added more Andes mints then what I pictured. I had peppermint Andes chips that I topped the fudge with once I was done. I decided to use all white chips and then added a few drops of food coloring to make a swirled white/pink fudge.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1 – 5 oz can evaporated milk
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 cups small marshmallows
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3/4 teaspoon mint extract
  • Chopped candy cane

Directions:

  1. Line a 8x8x2 baking pan with foil, butter lining and set aside
  2. Butter sides of a large saucepan and combine sugar, evaporated milk, and butter. (I put the butter in first and turned on the heat to let the butter melt a bit before adding the next two ingredients). Cook and stir over medium-high heat until mixture boils. Reduce heat to medium and continue cooking, stirring constantly, for 6 minutes. Don’t get sidetracked and decide to eat a clementine during this time, you may burn the fudge the mixture a little if you do.
  3. Remove saucepan from heat and add remaining ingredients. Mix until marshmallows and chocolate have melted and everything is fully combined.
  4. Spread fudge evenly in prepared pan. At this time I sprinkled the fudge with chopped candy cane. I placed mine in the fridge for twenty minutes before scoring into squares. Cover and chill for 2 to 3 (or until firm).
  5. Once firm use foil to lift out of pan and fully cut fudge (if you didn’t earlier. I had so it pulled apart rather easily).
  6. Store tightly covered in fridge for up to 1 month.

41 days of Celebration: Days 16-22

Decorating_2It’s that time again. The roundup of what the last week of celebrating has held for yours truly. It, as time does, has flown right on by. Although it’s been filled with mainly decorating, given the right playlist, it has been an uber blast. So without further ado, the synopsis.

Day 16: Friday, December 7: Movie Night
I decided to go ahead and skip the surprise and watch While You Were Sleeping (since, indeed, it had been left out of the bag). I really enjoy that movie, and it’s all about Christmas time. 

Day 17: Saturday, December 8: Decorating (will it ever end)
Decorating_1Spent the day just chillin’ and decorating the apartment. It was nice to get it almost done (needed to print some stuff to actually finish). I was able to use up most of the ornaments though (I only have about 8 left) so that made me feel unnecessarily accomplished. I was also happy to have a use for all of the random glassware that I have acquired.

Day 18: Sunday, December 9: Cooking and a Classic

It was a fudge-filled day on Sunday. I woke early (for a weekend at least) and started with the first of five batches of fudge. After two I realized I messed up when I went grocery shopping, not getting enough white chocolate chips. I also ran out of sugar. That’s a staple in the kitchen, how did I run out? Anyway, I popped off to the store (stopping in at work for a short while-yeah, I’m cool) and returned ready to knock out three more types. I had only planned on making 4, but decided the Simple Fudge recipe was so easy (obviously, apparently the name wasn’t enough of a give away) that I decided to alter it a bit and make another mint variety.
In the photo above, clockwise starting with the white with sprinkles, I made Funfettif Fudge, 3 Ingredient Mint, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Fudge, Simple Fudge & Simple Mint Fudge. It was fun making it because with the various recipes they all came out with different textures. For instance the cookie dough fudge is more crumbly then the simple mint which is more chewy. Always a learning experience.

Better Way

Better Way

Wrong Way

Wrong Way

Something I love about cooking is that since I’m such a novice (apparently that beginning foods class I took freshmen year in high school didn’t make me a pro) that I do a lot of learning by experience. For instance one of the recipes told me to use a candy thermometer. The pot I was using was too short for the thermometer to properly clip to the side and be perfectly upright. At first I attached it to a tumbler and put it next to the pot. That notion was quickly dismissed and I just angled it in the pot. However I was afraid to check it. In order to read it I had to put my face over the bubbling boiling sugar. Sugar burns are the worst (if past memory is accurate). Luckily I came out of this episode of cooking unscathed.

Every time I almost forget to mention the classic. Any road, this week it was The Phantom of The Opera. I love musicals in general, but the notion of being so overcome with emotion (both positive and negative which this movie has a LOT of) that the only way to expel it is through song is foreign to me. SO fun and it came out around Christmas which may be why I felt the need to include it. (I enjoy how some movies, that have absolutely nothing (or very very little) to do with Christmas are inextricably linked with the holiday. Personal examples include Harry Potter (that one scene in the first movie apparently pulls them all into holiday season, even though most of them came out in the summer), Lord of the Rings and (of course) Sherlock Holmes thanks to Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law.) It is so easy for me to forget that Gerard Butler is the Phantom in this movie. It was done long enough ago (and introduced) before he started doing all of the action/rom-coms that it really seems like its two different people. Just a side note.

Day 19: Monday, December 10: Story time (and yes! done decorating)
PostersFINALLY DONE DECORATING! I had some Christmas posters that I ‘needed’ to print before I could sign off on the holiday decorating. L->R: The best way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear” From Elf; “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord” from Luke: 2; and “What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.” from How the Grinch Stole Christmas. I also enjoyed listening to A Christmas Carol, narrated by Patrick Stewart – love! He certainly makes a good scrooge (in both the video and audio format).

Day 20: Tuesday, December 11: WHO Tuesday (doesn’t have the same ring to it as WHO Wednesday). Ever the flexible person I watched Doctor Who: Voyage of the Damned. As always, I really enjoyed the Doctor. However I do forget that Astrid is  Kylie Minogue. For whatever reason I have a different picture of her in my head. Oh well, obviously not important. 

Day 21: Wednesday, December 12: No Christmasy stuff
I had some non-Christmas family stuff tonight. Nothing major, but it did take me away from home for the entire night.

Day 22: Thursday, December 13: Red & Green Supper
RedGreenSupperThis idea was mentioned on some blog or another and I liked it (obviously). I did cop out a bit though and just had a salad with raspberry vinaigrette dressing. I didn’t really have time to do anything fancy since I headed out for a night of volleyball. However, elaborate or not, just knowing it was all green and red made me almost giddy, weird.

More celebration and Christmas to come as well as the recipes from fudge week! ~ Q

Christmas Cooking: Kisses, Hugs & Cookies

Kisses, Hugs & CookiesSo, as I wrote last time, last week for Cooking and a Classic I cooked Pretzel Hugs, Grinch Cookies, and Mint Kisses.

Pretzel Hugs

Pretzel HugsIngredients:

  • Hershey’s Hugs
  • Pretzels Snaps

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300
  2. line baking sheet with wax paper
  3. place pretzels on paper
  4. unwrap hugs, enough for each pretzel (I made 63 – one baking sheet worth)
  5. once oven is preheated pop in oven for about 2 minutes
  6. remove from oven and let sit for 1 minute
  7. top hugs with pretzels and press down, making sandwiches
  8. pop in fridge for 20-30 minutes to cool.

I had fun making these, despite hulking a few of the sandwiches. Easy enough that if I ever needed something for little kids to do, this could be totally up their alley. (For example we had a 5 year old at Thanksgiving who really wanted to help with the cooking. I think she would have loved this project, instead she helped put potatoes in a pot after we cut them. She really liked that too though, so whatever floats her boat I suppose.) Original directions found at cookies & cups blog, although I’m sure I could have figured it out. I so often forget these treats so credit given where it’s due…to pinterest.

Grinch Cookies

GrinchCookiesIngredients:

  • 1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) sugar cookie mix
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon mint extract
  • 8 drops green food color
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup mint baking chips
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In large bowl, stir cookie mix, butter, extract, food color and egg until soft dough forms. Stir in both mint and chocolate chips.
  3. Using small spoons (teaspoons, drop dough 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake 8-10 minutes or until set.
  5. Remove from oven and cool.

Grinch BatterOriginal recipe found via pinterest which lead back to here. I made these before the mint-kisses and I like the coloring of the later better. Perhaps because it’s more natural? As far as not adding food coloring personally, but I do like the coloring of theses as well. Not like the mint kisses are naturally green, but I digress.

Mint Kisses

MintKissesIngredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups butter, room temperature
  • 1 tsp peppermint extract
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped mint baking chips
  • granulated sugar
  • candy cane kisses

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and clear room in freezer or fridge for cookie sheet
  2. in large mixing bowl combine powdered sugar, butter, extracts and egg. Mix until creamy.
  3. In separate bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Add to wet mixture and combine thoroughly. Stir in chopped up baking chips.
  4. Shape dough into small bolls, roll in granulated sugar and place 1-in apart on cookie sheet.
  5. Bake for 10-12  minutes or until set
  6. When cookies come out of oven immediately press kiss into center of each cookie and set tray in fridge/freezer.

FreezerI made a dozen cookies, then I decided to make the rest using mini-cupcake tins (which I got since baking the poppers).  They made much cuter little cookies. I think I made them a bit ‘wrong’ since they didn’t turn out like the original blog entry. Granted I made a few adjustments, but even before the mint-chip substitution my mixture was smooth, not crumbly. That may have made them spread out more than they would usually. Which is why, of course, I used the mini-muffin tins.

If you try any of these, let me know how it works out for you! Until next time ~ Q

41 days of Celebration: Days 5-15

Day 5: Monday, November 26: Mani-pedi Day – not
The plan was to give myself a manicure and pedicure on Monday night. Really embrace the green and red and the only time of year you can really get away with wearing them together. Only instead I got the biggest surprise to date (I would say of the entire time, but who knows what next week will bring). I was stricken with an 15 hour flu. I started getting really tired at about 4 at work. Then I went home at my usual time (5:30) and was sick and in bed by 6. I told myself I would only nap until 7, ha. When 7 came around I was still under the weather so I just stayed in bed. Hours later I was awake convincing myself that it was the middle of the night. I was convinced it was like 5, but told myself it was probably only 2. When I finally broke down and checked the clock I believe it was 10. Yeah, that was the longest night ever. To my nephew, the germinator, you win. I think getting the entire immediate family sick trumps me giving my sister her second bout of Chicken pox. Although considering she was on vacation in Denver when it struck she would likely disagree.

Day 6: Tuesday, November 27: Christmas Card prep
I had this elaborate idea for my Christmas card. Last year I did a timeline-esque design. This year I thought about making it look like my Facebook timeline, complete with some of the posts, but since that evening have since changed my mind. So in the end that night just didn’t really count. I’m still working on my own idea, I had originally planned to mail them out yesterday, but we’ll see how long it takes me to finish. Next Monday is my new goal. Fingers crossed.

Day 7: Wednesday, November 28: WHO Wednesday: The Christmas Invasion
Poor London, always getting attacked around the holidays. Since Doctor Who is in it’s seventh revival season there are certainly enough Christmas’ specials to last until Christmas. First up was The Christmas Invasion. I’ve seen it before, but it’s always fun to go back and see the tenth doctor’s first adventure, even if he sleeps through most of it. How can you not appreciate an episode that has the hero sleeping most of the way through, then wakes to save the day in his pajamas while quoting The Lion King. Few shows can get away with such antics and I’m glad Doctor Who is one of them. Also I also enjoy who it makes you scared of Christmas stuff. For example this one had attacking Christmas Trees controlled by evil Santas. What a great way to spread Christmas cheer.

Day 8: Thursday, November 29: Decorate/Create Tree
I had planned to decorate my tree on Thursday, but my volleyball team decided to get together to play before tournament started on Friday so the task was postponed to Friday/Saturday. However I will say that sometimes my apartment lease makes me sad. No cats, no pets of any kind (including fish – it was very specific) and no live Christmas Trees. I’m sure there are other restricitions I’m ignoring right now, but those are the two that hit me most often. Since I’m not well-versed in the art of reanimation to make myself my own cat I decided to make my own non-living Christmas. As is the case now a days I got the inspiration from Pinterest.

Day 9: Friday, November 30: Movie Night
Once I’ve padded my Christmas’ movie collection I’ll be able to watch proper movies, but Friday I watched Someone Like You. It is in no way a Christmas movie, but there is one scene that takes place at a Christmas Party. That must have been my justification when I threw it in the mystery bag last month. While watching the non-Christmas movie I built the base of my Christmas Tree. Using a broken IKEA floor lamp (I should say that the light works, I just broke the paper lantern cover that use to surround it – not to tarnish IKEA’s reputation), chains, wire, and lights I made my own version of the tomato cage tree.

Day 10: Saturday, December 1: Cooking and a Classic
After sleeping in a bit I headed to our local thrift store, Affordables, to supplement my Christmas Light collection. They had a ton of icicle lights (whcih I didn’t have any of) and I’m quite fond of the result. The icicles helped fill in some of the more obvious gaps and it still works as a fairly bright source of light in the living room, especially if I turn on the light properly ChristmasTree(which is not the case in the picture). Win-win. Oh, and I still get to decorate a real tree. In a couple weeks my parent’s will be getting theirs so it’s really is the best of all worlds. I just can’t decide if I want to add ornaments to my ‘tree’ or not. However that thought shall be set aside for another day.

I also flip-flopped my standard Sunday with Saturday and did my cooking and a classic. This week I made Grinch Cookies, Mint Kisses and Pretzel hugs (recipes to come) and that was quite fun. Hugs and KissesThere weren’t even any major mishaps. I was interested to see that for the Grinch Cookies I used a sugar cookie base instead of a standard chocolate chip cookie base. The difference is slight, but a difference all the same. Also for the Grinch Cookies I used food coloring while for the Mint Kisses I just chopped up (to the point of being a fine powder) mint chips and the coloring is nearly the same. Oh the discoveries of baking.

I nearly forgot! The classic I watched was Breakfast at Tiffany’s but that is going to require it’s own short post because it’s related (in sentiment) to Casablanca and I’ll just hit them both at once.

Day 11: Sunday, December 2: Tour of Homes
It was a bit of a work outing when two of my co-workers and I decided to hit the tour of homes together. If you don’t know what this is, pretty much a few community members volunteer to have people come into their homes and walk through it to learn/see all the random stuff. For instance one of the houses this year was quite old and the couple that lived there had kept a lot of the original wood work and even restored some of the old details (like the stenciling at the top of the living room). Each of the houses had there very own feel. One was quaint, old and comfortable. Another was large and antique-y while the third was large and modern (with a restored barn that had a partial basketball court in the hayloft). All were fun to walk through and see once.

Day 12: Monday, December 3: Fancy Dinner
I never get to dress up. I don’t really have the occasion for it, so I made myself dinner and then got dressed up. I think this one would be more fun with other people, but I still quite enjoyed it. There is something about the juxtaposition of being fancy-like and eating (in my case) soup. ‘Posh’ indeed.

Day 13: Tuesday, December 4: Dinner with a FriendMonthly I head on over to this townie-esque bar to meet a friend of mine for dinner. We both live about an hour from this place and it’s been changing recently. The first few times we went to this bar it was run by this old rough looking guy. It was quite random, the next few months it was always a surprise who was going to be running the place (it doesn’t seem like the place that requires many employees). Once there was a santa-esque man (including really long beard), a middle aged woman and a semi-ditzy college aged girl. We’ve been going to this place for a couple years now, what can I say, it’s grown on us. Also, sometime this summer, it came under new management. This guy in his twenties bought the place and it’s evident. The place seems a bit more lively now. Granted it’s never crowded, but it’s not so awkward. It use to be that me and my buddy would be the only two in that evening. Now there is a nice buffer row of people at the bar. That’s probably enough about The Town Pump though.

Day 14: Wednesday, December 5: WHO Wednesday: The Runaway Bride
Again with the Doctor, always really. I enjoy Catherine Tate, and the Donna Nobel character but I did forget how crazily self-centered she was in her first introduction to the Doctor.

Day 15: Thursday, December 6: WreathsThursday is my unofficial decorate/craft night I suppose. I threw together a couple of wreaths to decorate the apartment. Wreath_01First I swapped out the decorations on my front door wreath. I decorate this wooden wreath according to the season. Last night I removed the fall leaves and gourds to replace them with greenery and pine cones. A simple, yet festive, alteration.  Wreath_02Secondly I gathered up my ornaments and a hanger to make a quick wreath for my guest-room door. I, for whatever reason, have roughly a bagillion ornaments. So this was a good craft, used some of those suckers up. Now if I can figure out what to do with the rest. The real problem is I get all of these ideas and want to do them all so then I find I don’t have enough and think about getting more then have to rein myself in. We’ll see if I can keep myself in check.

Wow, this is novel long, clearly need to be more prompt with writing up my days, ten days at-a-whack is too many. Until next time – Q

Christmas Cooking: Honey, Pass the Pumpkin

From the top left corner clockwise: Pumpkin Fluff topping on top of pumpkin loaf, pumpkin poppers, honey cakes

From the top left corner clockwise: Pumpkin Fluff topping on top of pumpkin loaf, pumpkin poppers, honey cakes

As promised, the recipes from last week. Enjoy!

Honey Cakes

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp all spice
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup chopped almonds
  • 1 tsp lemon extract
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt

Directions:

  1. preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a cookie sheet
  2. mix eggs and honey
  3. sift flour, baking soda, cinnamon, all spice and nutmeg together in separate bowl
  4. mix two mixtures together adding almonds, lemon extract and salt
  5. roll dough onto a floured surface to 1/4″ thickness, cut with cookie cutter and place on prepped cookies sheet
  6. bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown

Original recipe from The Wholesome Junk Food Cookbook.

This was my first time cooking with honey (not counting the fail that was the fudge that I also attempted the same day, so I don’t really count that). So now I know that honey can be used for things other than toast. Yeah learning experiences! Other one from that day, don’t use a paring knife to open nutmeg. I had used the tip to pry the little shaker tab thing on another spice, but I got exasperated with it not working and decided to use it vertically and just press down. Mistake, cut right through the bottom of the container, I did get it open though. I take accident prone to a whole new level. Also, I had these little cakes with jam on them for breakfast, fantastic. I’m not sure if I made them correctly or not, but they were really really dense. But eaten the way I did, the seemed like the perfect breakfast food. Especially with a cup of tea.

Pumpkin Fluff

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16 oz) can pumpkin
  • 1 (1 1/2 oz) box sugar-free instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 (8 ounce) container cool whip free
  • pumpkin spice (to taste)

Directions:

  1. combine all ingredients in order
  2. chill for 2 hours

Another pinterest discovered recipe which led me to the Recipe Diaries.

Pumpkin Poppers

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. allspice
  • 1/8 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 12 cup brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin
  • 1/2 cup milk (I used almond)

For Coating

  • melted butter
  • sugar
  • cinnamon

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray tins with non-stick cooking spray. The original directions called for mini-muffin tins, but I didn’t have any so I decided to use regular muffin tins as well a 9x5x3 loaf pan.
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and spices in a bowl. Whisk until well combined.
  3. In second bowl mix oil, brown sugar, egg, vanilla, pumpkin, and milk. Pour in flour mixture and mix until just combined.
  4. In attempt to still make cute little poppers I only partially filled the muffin tins. I made 12 ‘poppers’. I baked the rest of the dough in the loaf pan.
  5. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  6. Melt butter in small bowl. Since I was only going over 12 ‘poppers’ I melted about 2 tablespoons. Mix sugar and cinnamon in separate bowl.
  7. Allow poppers to cool for a few minutes.
  8. Coat poppers lightly in butter and then roll them in sugar.

I found the original/directions recipe via pinterest which led me to Just The Little Things.

More of the 41 Days of Celebration coming soon, check back all month long for updates! ~ Q