Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Crafty Christmas Wrap-up Part 2

As the sun set on the first day of Crafty Christmas, the kids were bright-eyed and bushy tailed for the next morning.  They were eager to get started, but I had to remind them that we have to eat breakfast.  I made some homemade cinnamon-sugar doughnuts and bacon to fill their stomachs in preparation for the crafting ahead.  And they ate all 30 of those doughnuts...I think I had one.  Oh well...on with the crafting.

We began with the traditional decorating of the Gingerbread man cookies.  These are the crafts that really bring out the real artistic side of everyone.  What was funny is that as we were making them, the kids realized how good the icing was,,,and they started to eat it.  then, before I could get a picture of their finished products...they were already eating them.  Most of them ate the legs first...I like to eat the head first...either way, they tasted so good with the icing.  I did manage to take a picture of the ones I created.  I also flipped the gingerbread cookie upside down to decorate it like a reindeer.  How cute is that!  I always think outside the box when crafting.

They ate them before i could take a picture!

Eating the icing

We did make peppermint bark using melted chocolate and peppermint white chocolate.  We took Snowflake cookie cutters and used them as molds.  We started with the chocolate, then layered the peppermint white chocolate on top.  After being in the freezer, we put them in a gift bag to give away.  Nice part about this craft is you give the cookie cutter with the candy.  Two gifts in one!  You know...I didn't get a picture of this craft.

Last but not least....we settled down to a quiet craft of making a Christmas card.  It included a foam reindeer to assemble and add your own greeting/decorations.  I observed how the theme for the day was making crafts for Daddy...which I think is so cute since I was a Daddy's girl.  Girls love their daddy!

Terri painted her card

When Crafty Christmas came to an end, we were left with an abundance of Holiday ornaments and keepsakes.  In doing Crafty Christmas, I hope to instill a sense of togetherness and family time into my children as well as others around us.  I also hope to release that inner artist that lives inside of all of us.  

Moral:  Holiday time is about family and making memories that will lasts.  I think I accomplished that this year!

See you next year for another Crafty Christmas...

Good times...Great memories...priceless!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Cupcake in a glass...

I focus mainly on the kids when it comes to Christmas with presents and creating memories for them.  But this Christmas was very different for me.  I don't expect to receive anything...what I did receive was priceless to me. Not only did my neighbor give us a heartfelt card thanking us for all that we do for them and their daughter.  I strive to provide all the neighborhood kids with a safe environment for them to come, dwell and have fun while their parents or parents are at work or just out.  That card made me feel that I had done my job.

My absolutely favorite present was the one from another neighbor.  I always find it interesting how you interact with your neighbors and have all kinds of conversations.  What is really interesting is how they listen to you and get you a present that truly symbolizes you.  My gift was not for the entire family.  It was clearly just for me.  A gift for just me to enjoy all by myself.  When I opened it...I screamed like I had won the lottery!!  It was the perfect gift for a Cupcake Lover....and I love it!!!

A dessert wine from Cupcake Vineyards!

Just having the word "Cupcake" on a wine bottle mesmerizes to me.  Cupcake Vineyards is a winery based out of California.  The wines are fruity and light...which I love!  

Read all about Cupcake Vineyards here.

And while you check that site out...I will think about what kind of cupcake I will make to compliment my Cupcake Vineyards wine...any suggestions???

Oh...and did I mention that I have the greatest neighbor ever!!  And he is all mine!!!  Not sharing this one!

Moral:  Be kind to your neighbors... 
and they will give you wine!
(Cupcake Wine!)

Crafty Christmas Wrap-up 2011 Part 1

Today...with my Christmas Hangover, I sit in my bed thinking about how now I have to take all the decorations down, put all the ornaments away as well as the Christmas tree.  But, I won't do that until the New Year.  For now, let's get the update on our Crafty Christmas at the Powell house.

Crafty Christmas was a much anticipated event in my house and word got out to the neighborhood kids about our big day of crafting.  So, I had 3 extra little girls at our traditional Crafty Christmas which to me...the more, the merrier!  It all started n Dec. 21st...all the extra girls slept over our house.  The next morning, as the kids woke up and we enjoyed breakfast...we organized our day by discussing what crafts we would do first.  Everyone wanted to paint ornaments...so the crafting began.  It is amazing how you can take one craft/activity and 6 girls can do it all different ways.  The creativity was abundant in our house today.  The ornament activities not only included painting but also we did one where you would etch your design.  The kids loved this one!  the ornaments for us are the best since this is the memory we create for that year.  Upon completing the ornament, we putt our name on the back and the year...Making Memories!  (Check out our past ornaments here)  Then it was on to the foam ornament...which was fun and easy!!


So, my favorite craft was the reindeer peppermint.  I saw this at the grocery store as I was trying to buy some peppermints for the tree.  I thought this was the cutest thing ever.  Love this little guy!

But, sadly, as the reindeer were born...they were devoured!  We made homemade hot chocolate and used the peppermint reindeer to sit it to make it Peppermint hot chocolate.  The kids thought it was cool how the peppermint melted as they stirred their chocolate concoction of sheer goodness!

Oh!  That's good!

Don't worry, we did break for lunch.  And then it was on to the next activity...the cupcake puzzle!  This is a 550 piece puzzle and a first for all the kids.  We started with the border, of course, and it took about an hour or so.  Then, we attempted to put this puzzle together.  Daisha, our neighbor and my daughter's best friend, said "We can finish this and play hide and seek!"  I am thinking to myself...there is no way we are going to finish this puzzle tonight...but she was very hopeful, so I went with it!  The kids were focused on this puzzle for 3 hours!  They were determined to get it done...but all we got done was the border and a few cupcakes.  

Someone is getting sleeping...

Finishing this would be a Xmas miracle!

At the end of the day, we realized that our Crafty Christmas had turned into a 2-day event.  We did not finish all of our crafts, so, I had to call every one's parents and ask to keep their little one for one more night.  Trust me, there was no resistance from any parent at all!  Now, it was official...Crafty Christmas was extended and would be concluded until the next day.  Everyone settled down on the couch with their blankets and I even had some bodies on the floor that were just too pooped to even move.  But as they went to sleep, they closed their eyes and dreamed about what was to come tomorrow of their Crafty Christmas adventure with the Powell Family.
Good night!

Don't worry...more Crafty Christmas news on the next post!
...more crafts, more creations, and more memories!

To Be Continued....

Christmas Hangover

The Powell family had a great Christmas if I must say so myself.  But I will also say that I definitely have a Christmas Hangover.  Yes...I have coined another phrase...Christmas Hangover.

Okay, let me define this word:

Christmas Hangover  (kris -muh's hang-oh-ver):  the feeling of ultimate fatigue manifested by the effects of Christmas.  This syndrome is caused by extreme happiness, laughter, good food, good times with family and friends, and the sound of happy children.  It is not caused by excessive consumption of alcohol.

In anticipation of the holiday, our minds meticulously plan out the entire festive celebration.  We orchestrate the Christmas dinner, wrapping the presents, entertaining our family and friends and even down to unwrapping all the presents.  It is like our minds do not sleep for the month of December.  We are zombies in our own bodies not knowing when the madness will end...and then...Christmas comes and presents are unwrapped, family arrives, dinner is eaten and the day is over.  With wrapping paper in the trash, kids playing with their new toys, and a sink full of dishes and a kitchen full of leftovers....we sit on the couch... glad it is all over...with a Christmas Hangover!

Moral:  See you next year...when the holidays make us drunk with Joy all over again!

Even my cat Kyle got a little "Drunk"!

How was your Christmas?

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Season's Greetings!

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

...from my home to yours!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Cookies, cookies, and more cookies...

I am not a cookie hater...but I am not a cookie lover.  I am an In-Between Cookie-Liker.  (New word of the day:  In-Between-Cookie-Liker...I like that!)  Don't get me wrong, I do make a mean chocolate chip cookie and I think any flavor combination you think of can be put into a cookie.  It is just like a cupcake...ideas are endless.  So, today I set out to make Chocolate Chip cookies for my kids as well as the kids in the neighborhood.  I always make cookies for the first day of school...a tradition in my house...so today, for the last day of school before winter break...I made cookies.
Everyone has there go to recipe for their chocolate chip cookies as do I.  But as long as anyone can remember, I have yet to share my recipe.  I have perfected my recipe and am very proud of this recipe.  But, unfortunately, I will not share it today.  What I will share is tips on making cookies and common mistakes novice bakers make when baking cookies.  So, you may not get my recipe, but you will have the tips and know-how to create your own chocolate chip cookies.

Cookie Tips/Tricks:
1.  Please make sure the butter is a to room temperature.  Butter does not cream very well with your sugar if it is straight out of the refrigerator.  If the butter is too soft, you get one flat cookie.

2. Measure your flour out properly and no "eye-balling".  Too much flour causes cookies to be hard and unable to spread when baking.  Too little flour  causes cookies to be flat.

3.  Allow your cookie sheet to cool or have multiple cookie sheets available to use between batches.  Cookies come out flat because the dough is place on a hot cookie sheet.  The butter in the cookies melts and cause flat cookies.

4.  Remember, if you use self-rising flour, you must omit the baking soda and salt.  I prefer not to use self-rising flour so I can control the salt content.

5.  I always allow my cookies to rest on the baking sheet after coming out the oven for 1 minute, then I transfer them to a wire rack to cool and get slightly crispy.

6.  My last secret to a good chocolate chip cookies is to use a combination of semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips.  To me, this helps balance out the sweetness of the cookie and make it just right.

So, my advice for making a good cookie, such as chocolate chip cookies, is to start with a recipe and make it your own.  Add ingredients, omit ingredients, substitute an ingredient...and when you are all done...you will have you very own secret recipe like mine!

Moral:  Remember, you shouldn't tell secrets, but secrets should never be told!

My Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe will forever stay with me and in the bellies of all who eat them... 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Breakfast

I have talked about crafty ideas, making ornaments as well as sock cupcakes.  I have even talked about kitchen gadgets and their "other uses".  With all this Christmas shopping and planning, I think we forgot to eat???  Let's talk about Christmas morning and breakfast.  Breakfast is my family's favorite meal.  We don't go a day without breakfast in this house.  I wake up early, do my Yoga routine, then hit the kitchen to make breakfast.  But on Christmas, I am not staying in the kitchen all day long.  I want to enjoy the fun/excitement of Christmas morning and the kids opening up their presents too.  Here are some suggestions for quick breakfast on Christmas morning:

1.  Baked French Toast Casserole:  (courtesy of Paula Deen)

   This recipe is something you can make the night before and put in the oven Christmas morning while everyone is unwrapping their presents.  This time-saver will allow for you to enjoy the morning with your family.  I add some vanilla to this recipe to give it some added flavor.  You can even add cardamon which take this casserole to a whole new level.

2.  Doughnuts:

This recipe is courtesy of me.  My kids absolutely love these little treats.  I buy the small buttermilk biscuits that have 10 biscuits in it.  I cut the middle out of it each one before submerging them in hot peanut oil.  You have to watch them closely since they cook fast...only takes about 15-20 seconds or less for each side...so don't walk away.  You can use a fork to flip them and when finished, place on a wire rack to drain/cool.  My family likes cinnamon sugar doughnuts, so after the doughnuts have cooled some, I shake them in a bag of cinnamon/sugar/cardamon.  I also make different dipping sauces to accompany the doughnut. If you want to get fancy, you can dip the tops in chocolate or vanilla icing and top with sprinkles or even peanuts.  The ideas are endless!

3.  Casseroles:

Breakfast casseroles such as the baked french toast casserole is probably the easiest thing to prepare for your holiday brunch.  If you want something with some more protein in it, try this Country Breakfast Casserole courtesy of Food.com.  You can make the sausage the night before and prepare this dish quickly so you don't miss out on all the holiday fun.
  Country Breakfast Casserole. Photo by Pam-I-Am

You can serve these yummy breakfast ideas with some fruit and don't forget to set your coffee maker so your coffee will hot and ready to enjoy!  

Moral:  Who says the kids have to have all the fun on Christmas morning!